Building Knowledge Worker Tools From the Ground Up

In a recent Basex survey, 90% of knowledge workers reported they had downloaded or installed add-ons and plug-ins, and a further 80% said they had actually written their own code and macros to improve and streamline the software they used.

Presumably tapping into this do-it-yourself trend, at this year’s Lotusphere in January, IBM announced the upcoming software package Lotus Mashups.  In the demonstration, mashup applications were constructed out of separate widgets in minutes.

Slated for release in mid-2008, Lotus Mashups is a software package for the creation of business mashups by non-technical users.  HTML-based widgets (both those included in the package and those custom made) can be easily connected through a drag-and-drop interface.  Data is pushed from one widget to another, aggregating the data to provide new relevant information.

The mashups created can blend enterprise and Web data to meet the specific needs of the user.  As data is changed in one widget, the others making up the mashup spring into action.  A chart that contains customer names and contact info can be linked to other widgets, so if a customer is selected, separate widgets that check stock prices, RSS feeds and blogs, and sales history can provide a complete picture of the customer.

Lotus Mashups provides a browser-based tool for building mashups, ready-to-use business widgets, and a development environment for dynamic widgets that can access enterprise systems.  The resultant mashups may be shared though a catalogue that has embedded community features such as rating, tagging, and comments.

What can we expect from Lotus Mashups?

By making it even easier to build and share custom mashups, we should see more knowledge workers than ever taking steps to customize their work environments, improve the efficiency of the tools they use, and automate the simple tasks that take up valuable time and energy.  And when they need a new tool, they just may be able to make it themselves.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.

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