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IBM: Instant messaging has replaced voicemail

May 31, 2011: 2:55 PM ET

The original enterprise tech company has been using social tools for years, says its new CIO.

IBM CIO Jeanette Horan

IBM CIO Jeanette Horan

FORTUNE --Business software makers -- from SAP (SAP) to Microsoft (MSFT) -- are in a race to make their products more "social." IBM (IBM) is no exception. The New York-based company says its social media roots date back to the 1970s, when its mainframe programmers started discussion forums (on System/370 consoles). Today, IBM sells social software like IBM Connections, which lets workers collaborate by sharing files and forming groups.

It's too early to tell whether Facebook-like features in the workplace will be a passing fad or a lasting trend, but IBM says it's eating its own dog food. The company uses its 400,000 worldwide employees as a testing ground for upcoming social products and features. IBM employees have launched 17,000 blogs to date. They also generate 1 million page views of internal wikis and 40-50 million instant messages per day. I recently caught up with IBM's new CIO, Jeannette Horan, to find out more about how employees use social networking features in and out of the office.

Fortune: What are your priorities as CIO?
Horan:The whole area of social media and the enablement of it in our very large diverse workforce is a key innovation area for us. Many of our [social software] ideas get tested within the IBM sandbox before they make their way into products that we deliver to the market. We partner heavily with the software development teams to make this happen.What kind of social tools do you use internally? More

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