Sure, there is LinkedIn if you want to meet some new people and make valuable business contacts, and there are some great online collaborative services such as Basecamp from 37signals, but IBM reckons that with Bluehouse, it is the first to push out an online social networking and collaboration cloud service to connect people from different businesses and get some work done to boot.
For now Bluehouse, as an open beta, is free to register and use at http://bluehouse.lotus.com, and is aimed at both SMEs and larger businesses where individual departments would form their own network and then use this to connect and collaborate with clients.
The idea is that Bluehouse allows users to work securely with co-workers, but it can also act as a kind of global platform where small businesses can meet and work together as trading partners.
Features include instant messaging, activities – where users can joint brainstorm or track meeting agendas – and store & share, where documents and files can be stored, encrypted, tagged and shared.
Also, there is the network aspect, which acts much like a profile page on a social networking site like LinkedIn or Facebook and allows contacts to share files amongst each other.
Interestingly, this mix of collaboration and social networking for businesses seems to be taking off lately. The newest addition comes in the form of Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, who left the popular social networking site to work on a web platform that will potentially “become to your work life what Facebook.com is to your social life”.
By Marie Boran
Pictured: screenshot from IBM’s Bluehouse, social networking and collaboration for business combined