By Cara Garretson
IBM this week announced a pair of Lotus social networking applications designed for corporate use that will run on Research In Motion's BlackBerry smartphones. The company also gave a glimpse of coming enhancements for these tools.
At IBM's Lotusphere conference in Orlando, Fla. this week, IBM announced and demonstrated the BlackBerry Client for Lotus Quickr and a new version of the BlackBerry Client for IBM Lotus Connections. Development of these applications on BlackBerry devices means that employees will be able to share ideas and stay in contact with their teams, customers and partners, regardless of where they are located, according to IBM officials.
The Lotus Quickr program is designed to help workers collaborate on documents and files, and it works with Lotus' Sametime enterprise-grade instant messaging application, which is already available for BlackBerrys. The Lotus Connections social networking tools give corporate users access to collaboration features such as profiles, communities, blogs, bookmarks and activities.
IBM also previewed future enhancements to its two social networking applications. The next release of Lotus Quickr will give users a simplified interface for accessing the application's library, plus the ability to apply versioning controls to documents, a redesigned discussion forum, recycle bin, and folder security, says IBM. The upgrade will also offer improved enterprise content management (ECM) features, including easier integration of content from IBM FileNet Content Manager or IBM Content Manager directly into Quickr places, better search functionality, and simpler ways to enter metadata.
The next version of Lotus Connections will include an automated people and social content recommendation function, designed to help users build out and improve their professional networks. It will also include a photo- and video-sharing capability for user-generated content, according to IBM, and tools to help moderators provide safe communities and stay in compliance with government and industry regulations as well as corporate guidelines by monitoring content. The Lotus Connections upgrade will integrate with IBM's WebSphere Portal and Microsoft's Sharepoint collaboration platform.
Also at Lotusphere this week, IBM previewed plans to facilitate social collaboration services in the cloud later this year, with the addition of a communities feature to its LotusLive Connections online service. Employees will be able to collaborate with other employees or with customers or partners on topics of shared interest, according to Big Blue.
With these announcements, IBM is hoping to further its vision of making its social software available to users at any time, from any place. The company says that from the third quarter of 2008 until the third quarter last year, the installed base of its social collaboration software grew by 34 percent.
"Over the past few years, we have witnessed the evolution of social software in business," said Jeff Schick, VP of IBM Social Software, in a written statement. "Businesses are now seeing the value that collaboration brings to the enterprise by connecting people and information. With the next releases of Lotus Quickr and Lotus Connections, we will deliver expanded functionality and improved performance to help simplify collaboration and increase efficiency."
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