IBM Lotus Connections Release A Social Networking Experience


The new features make Connections, which competes head-to-head with Microsoft's SharePoint software, more of a "community" application, IBM executives said. That's in contrast to earlier releases that were more geared toward individual users.

"For us, 2.5 is a watershed release," said Scott Hooks, executive vice president with Lotus 911, an IBM Lotus channel partner based in Canton, Ga. His view is that IBM has looked at what Facebook and Twitter are providing in terms of business value and has added it to the new software.

User adoption of collaboration tools has been a challenge and Hooks said some of the software's new capabilities, such as the Twitter-like micro-blogging tools, should make it easier for people to begin using the software. "It facilitates getting people more involved," he said.

The new micro-blogging features are in Connections' Profiles service, allowing users to post status updates on tasks they are working on. A new message board feature lets co-workers post messages and comment on status updates.

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"Micro-blogging has proven to be, fundamentally, a very important tool for me everyday," said IBM Lotus General Manager Bob Picciano in an interview at the Connections 2.5 press event in Cambridge, Mass.

The new wiki service lets designated users create and edit content that's uploaded to a collaborative Web site. It has automatic versioning, given that many people may be editing a single page, and a "show changes" view.

With the Web-based file-sharing library users can upload and share content, such as presentations and documents, and co-workers can view the content and provide feedback.

IBM, at the press event, also said that Lotus Notes would soon support Apple's iPhone, offering e-mail, contact lists and calendar applications for the popular mobile phone. Also coming shortly is the addition of Lotus iNotes to the vendor's Lotus Live hosted applications.