IBM (NYSE: IBM) is making no secret of its ambitions to bring Web 2.0 technologies into the enterprise and out to the mobile workforce, under its own banner.
Big Blue announced today it’s placing its Lotus communication and collaboration tools portfolio on Research In Motion’s (NASDAQ: RIMM) BlackBerry, making the smartphone the lone enterprise device to provide mobile access to all major Lotus collaboration solutions.
The Lotus Collaboration Software suite for BlackBerry provides social networking software from IBM Lotus Connections, collaboration tools from Lotus Notes and unified communications (UC) features from Lotus Sametime.
“What people are interested in is ‘tagging’ experts and knowledge out of the office,” Bob Picciano, IBM’s general manager of Lotus Software, told InternetNews.com.
“With this suite they can share and collaborate across documents and share social bookmarks,” he said, adding, “this is thumb friendly as you can e-mail and tap bookmarks while holding onto a bus pole.”
IBM isn’t the only application vendor that appreciates the BlackBerry market base. Just a week ago SAP announced it was natively integrating its CRM application into the BlackBerry, providing users full access to all of SAP CRM’s functionalities.
Connectivity and communication wherever and however is a growing requirement for businesses. More workers are relying on mobile devices for that capability. Juniper Research predicts that 4.2 billion people will own mobile devices by 2013.
Meanwhile, Research firm Strategy Analytics predicts 290 million mobile handsets will be sold this quarter, an increase of 12 percent compared with the second quarter of 2007.
The news also illustrates IBM’s commitment to advancing UC technologies. Just last month it announced a $1 billion R&D effort in unified communications. It’s also expanding a partnership with Nortel Networks (NYSE: NT) to provide UC capabilities to small and midsize businesses. The two vendors launched a UC alliance 10 months ago, going toe to toe with market rivals such as Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT).
Plus, industry researcher IDC has reported that the UC market could total $17 billion by 2011.
For RIM, the IBM Lotus mobile partnership will certainly keep the BlackBerry entrenched as the leader in enterprise smartphone adoption. RIM is tops with 73 percent of corporate purchases for the second straight quarter this year, according to research from ChangeWave Research, a Rockville, Md. firm.
RIM also announced its newest BlackBerry this week, the Bold, offering what the Ottawa-based vendor claimed is greater performance and functionality thanks to high-speed network capabilities and a heftier processor component.
IBM’s Institute for Business Value predicted mobile Web users will number 1 billion by 2011. The vendor clearly sees market potential and has launched a global research program called the IBM Mobile Web Initiative to deliver mobile Web solutions to emerging markets.
Beyond business, IBM expects the mobile Web market for consumer services such as entertainment and e-mail to reach $80 billion by 2011, more than 36 percent annual growth. Research firm eMarketer forecasted that mobile social networking will grow from 82 million users in 2007 to more than 800 million worldwide by 2012.
With the Lotus Collaboration Software suite, enterprises also gain access to IBM WebSphere Portal technology. The IBM dashboards software lets businesses build Web sites and single screen dashboard views that deliver information, applications and processes personalized to the individual BlackBerry user.
“The complete portfolio of collaboration and communications features of the Lotus collaboration suite, together with the push-based architecture, end-to-end security and manageability of the proven and widely adopted BlackBerry platform, is unmatched in the industry,” said Jim Balsillie, co-CEO at RIM, in a statement.
IBM Lotus Notes and Domino on BlackBerry provide access to e-mail and calendaring functions along with any custom applications.
Meanwhile, IBM Lotus Sametime on BlackBerry lets users access buddy lists, send and receive instant messages, view presence information and click on a name to start a call.
The inclusion of Cognos 8 Business Intelligence software provides personalized secure information to allow users to make informed decisions and process documents while on the move, according to IBM.
“We’re seeing UC and collaboration tools move from the PCs and laptops to the mobile device as people embrace the value of social networking and being connected,” IBM’s Picciano said.