Report from Lotusphere

Going almost directly from the Information Overload symposium last week to Lotusphere in Orlando this week creates an entirely new level of information overload.

Let’s take a look at what we saw:

First and foremost, IBM announced the public beta of Lotus Notes and Lotus Domino 8 to commence in February.  Previously code-named “Hannover,” the new version, which supports composite applications and uses the Eclipse framework, replaces both Lotus Notes version 7.x as well as the Workplace tools IBM offered in recent years.  The Notes client will support enterprise mash-ups, linking multiple systems together in a variety of ways to provide better and more contextual information to knowledge workers.  The Notes 8 client runs on Microsoft Windows, Apple Macintosh, and Linux operating systems.

Features include “Recent Contacts” and “Message Recall.”  With Recent Contacts, users will get a one-click, dashboard view of recently sent emails and chats to quickly locate a key contact.  The Message Recall feature will let users quickly recall an email message after it has been sent by mistake, saving a user from a potential conflict or miscommunication situation.

Within Activities, knowledge workers can bring together various e-mail messages, instant messages, documents, and other items into one logical unit.  It uses Web 2.0 technologies including Backpack, Atom, Tagging, REST, Ajax, and JSON.

Notes 8 also includes productivity editors that support the Open Document Format (ODF).  Knowledge workers can create word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation documents in ODF format.  The productivity editors also support Microsoft Office and Open Office file formats.

IBM also announced Lotus Sametime 7.5.1.  The new version of the instant messaging and collaboration tool adds real-time point-to-point video, tabbed chat, integration with Microsoft Office applications including Microsoft Outlook, support for Linux servers, and Apple Macintosh client support.  The tabbed interface is especially useful.  The integration with Office should prove invaluable.

Although a lot of companies were at Lotusphere displaying tools that work with Sametime and Notes, one that stood out was Siemens’ OpenScape.  OpenScape has been around for several years but only worked with Microsoft LCS.  The new version, which is Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) based, has shed its LCS roots and is built on Siemens’ unified SOA applications framework.  It provides click-to-contact, click-to-conference, and what Siemens refers to as “full-spectrum” presence functionality to Lotus Sametime users.  Integration with Lotus Sametime will provide users with presence information about a colleague’s availability – before attempting communication – thus enabling them to choose the best method and time to communicate effectively on the first attempt.

Leveraging its research over many years, IBM entered what it calls Social Networking with Lotus Connections.  Social Networking may be a misnomer, first because it is not “social” but more importantly because it is what some might refer to as a knowledge management tool in disguise.

Connections is designed to connect users to communities of interest, facilitate participation in professional networks, and connect people with information more quickly.  Connections has five components: Activities, Communities, Dogear, Profiles, and Blogs.  Activities supports organizing work and interaction around a specific activity, allowing knowlege workers to organize, share, and collaborate with colleagues; Blogs allows users to create, post, and search through blogs and also supports Atom feeds.  Lotus Notes version 8 users will be able to access Activities directly from the Lotus Notes inbox, including support for dragging and dropping an e-mail message directly into an activity.  Websphere Portal and Lotus Connections users will be able to use light weight portlets to display new Dogear bookmarks, recent blogs entries, and search Profiles to locate an expert.

Last but not least, IBM announced Lotus Quickr, which replaces Quickplace.  The new offering is a team collaboration and content management platform that connects with desktop tools including Microsoft Office and Lotus Notes 7.x and 8.x, wikis and Weblogs, and content repositories.  Knowledge workers can save attachments into a document library or team workspace.  When sending e-mails with attachments, users are prompted to send a link instead of the attachment.  Quickr is built on open Eclipse technology and users can navigate through Quickr content using Windows Explorer or the My Documents interface.  Users may also syndicate content using RSS/Atom feeds.  A personal edition that includes desktop connectors and content library capabilities will be provided to licensed users of Lotus Notes and Domino at no additional charge.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

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