IBM has updated its Connections social software to offer users the ability to analyse data from inside and outside their organisations, including Facebook, Twitter, audio and video data.
The move will allow staff to view activity streams from social networks, alongside business content such as customer satisfaction surveys, expense reporting or marketing leads.
Such big data analytics capabilities will allow employees to quickly pinpoint customer and competitor trends, and then discuss ways of reacting to such trends in the company via internal Connections social feeds. Meanwhile, line managers will be able to gain better insight into employees' whereabouts and performance.
The next edition of IBM Connections, which will be available from March 2013, will also offer users deeper integration with Microsoft Outlook enabling them to access their profiles, files and communities directly from the Microsoft Office email application.
"IBM is revolutionising front-office processes with the application of cognitive computing and advanced analytics," said Alistair Rennie, IBM social business general manager.
Also in March, IBM will update its email client Notes and Domino Social Edition suite.
The update is already in beta and will incorporate file sharing, activity streams and a simplified user interface. IBM said it will be the first major release of the client in five years.
Following Big Blue's purchase of Kenexa in December 2012, the firm said it has now finished integrating its acquired recruitment and performance management solutions with Connections and will launch the Employee Experience Suite in the first half of this year.
The suite will provide HR leaders with access to social networking, e-meeting and instant messaging capabilities to recruit new employees. HR professionals will also be able to survey employees.
The updates were announced at IBM's annual Connect 2013 conference in Orlando.
In related news, analyst Gartner has warned that 80 percent of businesses will not achieve their intended benefits with social network deployment, due to inadequate leadership.
"Businesses need to realise that social initiatives are different from previous technology deployments," said Carol Rozwell, Gartner analyst.
"Traditional technology rollouts, such as enterprise resource planning or customer relationship management, followed a ‘push' paradigm. Workers were trained on an app and were then expected to use it."
"In contrast, social initiatives require a ‘pull' approach, one that engages workers and offers them a significantly better way to work. In most cases, they can't be forced to use social apps, they must opt-in."
Rosalie Marshall is the special projects editor and chief reporter at V3. Previously she was a reporter for IT Week and channel editor for online television site LocalGov.tv. Rosalie covers government IT, business applications, IT skills, open source technology and social networks.