Winner of the IBS-Elite Projects Best Case Award, India, ICSC 2012

The Social Business Journey at IBM

The Social Business Journey at IBM
Case Code: BSTR418
Case Length: 19 Pages
Period: 1997 - 2012
Pub Date: 2012
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.500
Organization: IBM Corporation
Industry: Information Industry
Countries: Global
Themes: Social Media, Marketing Communications, Sales Management, Services Marketing, Marketing Management, Human Resources Management
The Social Business Journey at IBM
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


This case is about IBM's social media initiatives and its transformation from social media to social business. By launching several social media initiatives, IBM aimed to nurture a culture of collaboration for fostering innovation. Since the early 1970s, IBM encouraged its mainframe programmers to collaborate online using the System 370 consoles. This was followed by the launch of the w3 corporate Intranet. IBM was also one of the first companies to encourage employees to use the Internet.

Taking its collaboration efforts forward, IBM explored the blogosphere in 2005 empowering employees to blog. IBM felt most of its social efforts, which had begun internally as a way for IBMers to learn and collaborate, could become products that could be offered to the marketplace. This marked the launch of Lotus Connections in January 2007. IBM wrapped all its social networking technologies into a single package – Lotus Connections, a social software suite integrated with capabilities to work in a corporate setting.


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • Analyze IBM's social media initiatives and understand the reasons behind its success
  • Understand IBM's decentralized social media approach
  • Discuss and debate IBM's social business transformation
  • Understand how IBM integrated B2B marketing into social selling
  • Discuss the challenges faced by IBM in becoming a fully realized social business



IBM, market leader, enterprise social software, culture, collaboration, innovation, social networking, social media marketing, B2B, decentralized social media, microblogging, crowdsourcing, Innovation Jams, Lotus Connections, BlogCentral, wikis, Beehive, BlueIQ, IBM Connections, social business transformation

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