November 20, 2008 09:00 ET

IBM Develops Social Networking Tool to Help Drive Skills and Knowledge Sharing

ARMONK, NY--(Marketwire - November 20, 2008) - IBM (NYSE: IBM) today is making available a new social networking tool called Pass It Along to help organizations take a more user-friendly, collaborative approach to knowledge sharing. The new technology expands the notion of social networking for employees and learners -- and includes advanced features such as learning paths, visual mapping and expertise profiling.

Nearly 22 million workers are set to retire this year in the United States alone, posing a significant challenge for businesses as they look to retain industry expertise and skills. As a result, organizations of all sizes are now looking for new ways to help their workforce more easily share and gain knowledge for competitive advantage.

IBM is helping to address this issue with Pass It Along technology that integrates knowledge management, social networking and Web 2.0 concepts to simplify the way information is shared and consumed by users. The new technology enables users to access, share and rate essential information; categorize information from the Web or an intranet according to interest; and complete learning paths and create learning networks to help facilitate ongoing knowledge sharing.

As part of the underlying technology, IBM has implemented a unique information access model that allows contributors to decide how broadly their information is shared and who else can collaborate on contributions. For example, businesses can use the technology for a wide variety of internal and external needs including the orientation of new hires, training a sales force or collaborating with clients, vendors and business partners.

"Organizations looking to on-board new resources, conduct business process training, and complement formal education delivery with an informal tool that easily serves up essential information will find Pass It Along useful," said Dr. Tony O'Driscoll, a professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. "Software developers in particular can use the technology within their existing IT infrastructure without the typical administration costs associated with traditional knowledge management applications."

Key benefits of Pass It Along include:

  • The ability to retain key knowledge to pass along to new generations of workers: As the workforce continues to mature, knowledge can be lost as workers retire. This raises the challenge of bringing new employees -- particularly in global teams -- up to speed with key information. With Pass It Along, that information can be easily exchanged among a company's workforce by harnessing expertise of individual team members.

  • Learning around niche-topics and specialized projects can be created and disseminated quickly without heavy investments: Pass It Along is useful for projects involving business partners, vendors and clients who have immediate training and knowledge exchange needs. For example, software developers can use Pass It Along to cultivate real-world database and operating system skills to remain relevant and competitive. IBM has already made knowledge paths available to developers on topics such as Linux administration and working with DB2.

  • An enhanced learning experience through user-generated content enhances the learning experience: Learners today are not only more diversified in terms of age, ethnicity and location -- but they are more adept with technology and bring new expectations to the learning environment. Pass It Along allows users to visually map out the learning process, easily add to their own knowledge base, extend their knowledge assets to others and form learning groups based on niche interests. Through data clouds, users can better link knowledge to associated experts, and create more powerful learning networks both within and outside of an organization.

IBM developerWorks has launched a beta version of Pass It Along to provide developers with a peer-to-peer knowledge exchange network. In this test bed, over 1300 developers have begun using Pass It Along, creating over 120 topics, with popular topics including XML and Linux. The beta offers the opportunity to gain real user feedback and allows developers to create and organize information dynamically based on what they value.

A no-cost, demo version of Pass It Along is available as a service at:

For more information about IBM developerWorks, visit

Contact Information

  • Media Relations Contact:
    Jennifer C. Clemente
    IBM Software Group