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Blog-Spotting With IBM

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Corporate leaders who ignore what bloggers are saying about them and their businesses could have serious consequences.

IBM today introduced new software that monitors and analyzes blogs, wikis , news feeds, consumer review sites, newsgroups and other community-generated content to keep tabs on their image.

The Public Image Monitoring Solution is a response to two developments, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, IBM's vice president of technology strategy and innovation, said at a news conference at the company's research offices here.

First is a shift of the source of Web content. In the early days of the Web, most online information was created by businesses, governments and universities because they could pay for servers, storage and content- creation applications.

"The last few years we've seen a dramatic change in that," Wladawsky-Berger said, noting how easy and inexpensive it is to publish online content. "Now, over 50 percent of information on the Web are coming from individuals."

At the same time, search has grown up.

"If it wasn't for search you could have all the information out there on everything and you couldn't find a damn thing," Wladawsky-Berger said.

Not only is there more information out there, but it is being used by consumers and businesses to make buying decisions.

"People can share and spread opinions faster than ever before and that's accelerated the impact of public opinion on businesses," Marc Andrews, head of IBM's strategy and business development of information integration, said.

IBM's Public Image Monitoring Solution is based on WebSphere Information Integrator OmniFind Edition. It uses the company's text analytics and semantic search technology from its research and consulting divisions.

The Armonk, N.Y., IT giant also went outside for some components. It uses Nstein Technologies' multilingual text analytics and news feeds and published articles from Factiva.

The offering assesses the tone of blogs and posts: positive, negative or neutral. It also identifies hot topics of discussion. For example, using the software to look at a particular make and model car would return content about fuel economy, roominess and safety.

Public Image Monitoring Solution is currently available from IBM and Nstein. IBM WebSphere Information Integrator OmniFind version 8.3 is expected to be available later this year.

In addition to this offering, IBM is working on other hot social networking technologies, such as using blogs and wikis to help managers share information and pull in links to Web sources to solve business problems, the company said.

To be sure, IBM will be using Public Image Monitoring Solution to see how early adopters react.