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.

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