IBM’s Lotus division on Monday used its annual user conference to discuss how it is incorporating Web 2.0 technologies into its line of business productivity, messaging and collaboration tools.

The company launched IBM Lotus Connections, which it described as an integrated platform of social software for business use. It includes enterprise blogging functions, social bookmarking that will link to other users in an organization. It also introduced Quickr, which allows users to download e-mail messages into a document library and to search through various content repositories. A public beta of Lotus Notes 8 and Domino 8 was announced, which will include a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) editor and composite application support, is scheduled for next month.

Web 2.0 refers to technologies such as blogs, wikis and RSS that help users manage information and communicate with each other dynamically in online environments. This is an area that IBM executives said match well with Lotus tools.

“The idea is to break down barriers between e-mail, Web pages, transcripts and so on,” Ken Bisconti, IBM vice-president of Workplace, Portal and Collaboration Products said via teleconference from Lotusphere 2007 in Orlando. 

IBM is hoping to use this year’s Lotusphere event to respond to complaints about the lack of clarity and direction of its Lotus product line, which for several years has been driven by its WorkPlace collaboration software tools. Lotus general manager Michael Rhodin said getting across the highlights of its product roadmap was still a considerable challenge.

“I know we firehosed a lot of information out there,” he said “What’s amazing is the amount of information we had to cut.”

Rohan Jayasekera, a Web 2.0 consultant based in Toronto, said IBM is far from the only vendor applying Web 2.0 technologies to its product line. He pointed to well-known online companies such a and eBay, which have been using a variety of user-generated content tools, among other products.

“I’m sure they’re looking at these things with some concern. They certainly don’t want their product to become obsolete. Even if they’re not sure if Web 2.0 is just a bunch of hype, they might want to play it safe and do what they can. There is a potentially very bright future for transforming existing products into Web 2.0 products.”

Rhodin said IBM Lotus is focused on anything that can offer better integration and seamless connectivity to enterprise data, adding that none of what is being announced at Lotusphere was developed overnight. 

“We may have dramatically expanded our portfolio in public, but in private we’ve been working on it for a long time.”

Lotusphere continues Tuesday.


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