IBM’s mobile apps help staffers navigate the global giant

The WhirlWind apps store and its turbo-charged company directory Faces deliver handy tools and colleagues’ expertise to employees’ smartphones.

IBM employees used to have to dash back to the office to fill out time reports for their work projects Friday night if they forgot to submit them. Now there’s an application that enables them to do it from home—or anywhere—via BlackBerry.

And if they need smartphone access to the powerhouse employee directory called Faces, there’s also an application for that.

The trouble, however, is sorting out the wealth of apps that help employees arrange flights, coordinate instant-message work groups worldwide and check the intranet. That’s why IBM designed WhirlWind, an internal store where staffers can find nearly 500 apps, rate them and review them for their colleagues.

Like Faces—described by staffers as a company directory on steroids—WhirlWind provides new ways for IBM to spread information internally among more than 400,000 employees. They can find out what applications are useful to others who do similar jobs.

The WhirlWind store was unusual enough to merit a story in Bloomberg Businessweek, which noted that WhirlWind offered apps that enabled employees to, among other things, schedule conference rooms and approve purchasing orders.

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