Web 2.0 tools can help companies to maintain an ongoing dialogue between staff, or among customers, but they can also be used more episodically.

Computing giant IBM uses Web 2.0 collaboration software to bring its employees together for an annual, online ‘Jam’ event. Starting in 2001, these Jams provide a temporary forum for IBM’s 300,000-strong workforce to discuss the company’s strategy and direction.

In 2003, for example, the event was dubbed ValuesJam and employees were invited to discuss the company’s core identity. In 2006, the InnovationJam saw 150,000 IBM employees convene online to discuss new ideas. Based on ideas mooted at the InnovationJam, 10 new IBM businesses were set up and allocated a total of $100 million in seed capital.

Innovation is the topic in hand again this year, and in early October 2008 IBM employees convened again for InnovationJam 2008 to discuss the enterprise of the future.

The software that supports the Jams is built in J2EE on IBM’s WebSphere SOA platform, and includes forums, live chat and social tagging. It is hosted on the company’s Special Events infrastructure, which is also used for the company’s information processing role at Wimbledon and the US Open.

“Jams have helped IBM deliver cutting-edge and game-changing products, taking us in directions we may never have thought of, changing our culture and the fundamental way we collaborate across our business," says Liam Cleaver, director, IBM Jam programme office.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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