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IBM Cambridge Research Center

  Project: SmallBlue

Researchers: Kate Ehrlich, Ching-Yung Lin

We rely on a personal network of friends and colleagues to get trusted information that helps us to filter, interpret and make sense of information, and, who act as brokers who introduce or refer us to new people But personal networks are not always sufficiently large or diverse to reach everyone directly who has the right information. The limited reach of a personal network is especially pronounced for new hires who have not had the time to build a network.

Enter SmallBlue, an innovative expertise locator that helps you find knowledgeable people in IBM or learn more about people you have just met. SmallBlue is a suite of four tools. Use:

  • SmallBlue Find to see a relevance-ranked list of people associated with any search term.
  • Use SmallBlue Net to get a view of the social network of the top 100 experts in any topic.
  • Use SmallBlue Reach for more information about a person, including a list of their latest blog entries, bookmarks or forum posts or to see which communities they belong to.
  • Use SmallBlue Ego -- to see your own connections, and through them, the number of other people you can reach.

SmallBlue helps people capitalize on networking behaviors, leverage social knowledge and artifact sharing, and enable the business to benefit from the knowledge and experience of practitioners more effectively. In the diagram below, the colors represent different divisions within IBM. The people associated with second life fall into four groups in terms of their relationships to each other. Three of the groups are composed of people from the same division, and only the fourth group (in the middle) is composed of people from several divisions.


Initially developed by researchers from Watson Research as a research prototype and sponsored by Global Business Services (GBS) Learning and Knowledge, SmallBlue is has been released by Lotus under the name, IBM Atlas for Lotus Connections. IBM Atlas is a corporate social networking visualization and analysis tool designed to help organizations maximize their investment in social software by answering questions such as who the key experts are on a given topic, how they are connected, and whom a user's contacts know that they do not. It is offered to customers as an add-on to Lotus Connections solution from IBM Software Services for Lotus (ISSL). To read more about IBM Atlas for Lotus Connections: www.ibm.com/software/lotus/services/assets.html.