Upcoming Lotus Tools Take Cues from Web 2.0

by Michael Hickins

Social networking is informing upcoming features in IBM's collaboration tools.

IBM's Lotus division is taking cues from important trends in the consumer space.

It is poised to deliver new products for the enterprise that mimic features of Web 2.0, such as social networking, user-generated content and device-neutral mobile software.

Sometime in the first half next year, IBM (Quote, Chart) will launch Dogear, a social networking tool patterned after del.icio.us, which allows users to tag content for future reference.

Other users in the person's network can then find relevant information by searching on words that match the tags.

In contrast to del.icio.us, however, Dogear will have very stringent privacy features in order to meet the demands of the enterprise world, some of which are inimical to the free-wheeling world of typical online social networking.

In an exclusive interview with internetnews.com, Charlie Hill, Lotus lead designer for social computing, explained how IBM is leveraging "the transformation occurring with this idea of the living Web."

"We're doing that in a way that gives our customers flexibility and choice, embracing the openness of the Web and applying that to the enterprise environment," Hill said.

IBM's customers need to innovate in order to grow, said Hill, and Lotus is focused on developing solutions that allow the broadest possible collaboration both inside and outside the firewall.

"We see empowering people and creating collaborative mechanisms that are suitable to business as the key to spurring this innovation," Hill said.

To that end, the Lotus division is also developing solutions that are easier for a wide set of end-users to apply.

"Architectures need to be open and designed to support and easy to use by any user who walks up and uses them," Hill said.

"Giving people a work environment where they have control over and the means to refine their environment based on their expertise" is another way of stimulating innovation in the enterprise.

Another factor in this effort is supporting a wide variety of mobile devices.

"Empowering workers to take selected sets of information with them when they go on the road is another way we see using social computing capabilities to help them be more productive," Hill said.

Users, he said, should be able to pick and choose familiar tools as conditions dictate, a scenario also endorsed by Gartner analyst Matt Cain.

Cain told internetnews.com that in the coming years, users will have a continuum of collaboration services to pick from depending on the business task at hand.

"Having a broad pallet of communication modalities from which to choose is going to create tremendous business efficiencies," he said.

Article courtesy of internetnews.com

This article was originally published on Saturday Oct 7th 2006