Web 2.0 flowers in IBM’s Lotus Connections productivity suite

IBM’s Lotus unit is set to launch a service called Connections, dubbed as a ‘MySpace for office workers’

Web 2.0 flowers in IBM's Lotus Connections productivity suite

IBM is taking the battle for productivity software into the social networking arena. Up against the latest offerings from Office 2007, IBM’s Lotus unit is set to launch a service called Connections featuring the online sharing of information.

In a bid to improve the workings of groups it combines five components: member profiles, activities, blogs, communities and something called ‘dogear’, which is IBM’s term for how users share web bookmarks with colleagues.

More specifically, Connections is intended to help quickly set up ad hoc work groups, helping projects in terms of storing shared documents, emails and web pages, with users also publishing blogs.

Underpinning the service is the now-familiar concept of tagging – user-generated classifications that can aid the navigation of otherwise unstructured information, as seen with the likes of flickr.com. The tags will be intended to help users track popular discussion topics and estimate who may have expertise on any subject.

The service has been dubbed as a ‘MySpace for office workers’, with bookmark sharing functionality (as with the del.icio.us website) and blog search tools (Technorati.com) also part of the mix.

‘What Web 2.0 has demonstrated is that self-defining communities often do a better job of locating relevant information,’ said IBM software chief Steve Mills. ‘This helps with the rapid identification of expertise and experts.’

Pricing for Connections hasn’t yet been revealed, but it is expected to become generally available before the summer of 2007.

It is designed to run as a separate set of Web services that work for both existing and potential new Lotus customers. In terms of existing Notes users, Connections is intended to be an enhancement to, but independent of, the existing Lotus software.

For its part, Microsoft has put out a spoiler announcemnt, choosing today to highlight new tools to simplify the transition from Lotus Notes/Domino to Exchange Server 2007.

Specifically, new tools can be found within the Microsoft Transporter Suite for Lotus Notes and there are new templates for SharePoint Products and Technologies, designed to make it easier to roll out customized apps for common business scenarios.

More information, and tools and templates, can be found on Technet.

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