RealTime IT News

IBM Refreshes Lotus Social Structure

ORLANDO -- IBM  said it will deliver a raft of social computing tools that integrate the best features of Web 2.0 for business use.

The announcements started with Lotus Notes and Domino 8, formerly known as Hanover, which will ship this summer. A public beta will be available in February.

The new iteration of the popular e-mail and server tool will include standards-based document editors, a Real Simple Syndication (RSS) editor and composite application support.

Mike Rhodin, general manager of IBM Lotus, called it one of the most significant releases of Notes the company has ever produced.

It is also releasing a new version of Sametime 7.5 in April that includes the integration of video with chat, tabbed chat and compatibility with Microsoft applications. In addition, it will allow users to initiate a voice call with all members of a current chat through the instant messaging client.

Another platform, Lotus Connections, will allow business customers to gather and exchange information and connect with relevant individuals and resources within an organization.

The application is organized around activities created by users, who can then pull in relevant subject-matter experts or team members by linking to user profiles.

The application also makes use of social tagging and book marking to help individuals locate information and other colleagues more easily than through traditional searching and organizational charts.

Rhodin explained that the application allows customers to avoid the failure rates of traditional knowledge-management tools, which he called a "ludicrous concept."

"It's obvious why it failed; knowledge is inside people's heads," he said. The idea with Lotus Connections is "capturing that knowledge as it's always evolving and linking it together."

Connections, available in the second quarter of 2007, also includes a bookmarking product, Dogear, that can be used to identify useful content both inside and outside the organization.

"This is all about empowering people and organizations that didn't know they had common interests," Rhodin added.

The division also announced a new collaborative content offering called Quickr, which people can use to share documents. It includes connectors that integrate with desktop applications, wikis, blogs and other content repositories.

Last week, Microsoft announced  its own version of a unified collaboration suite and said, as did IBM today, that it is based on open standards and ready for third-party developers.

Rhodin, however, rejected Microsoft's argument. "There is not even the breath of a proprietary flavor here," he said in response to a question from internetnews.com.

Forrester analyst Matt Brown said that the announcements show that the Lotus division is going in the right direction by incorporating both the functionality, as well as user interface of popular Web 2.0 applications, but said that it remained to be seen how much traction it gets in the workplace.

For social computing to actually succeed, it has to be widely used by members of an organization.

"For it to have enough adoption, it has to be part of people getting their jobs done," he told internetnews.com.