By: Angela Ashenden, Principal Analyst, MWD Advisors
Published: 16th November 2010
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License
Later this month, IBM is releasing the next version of its social collaboration product, Lotus Connections. When it was first launched in June 2007, Connections provided a sort of electric shock for the enterprise collaboration software market, showing that an industry giant can indeed be innovative and market defining, and of course in the three years that have followed we have seen the social collaboration market explode around it with small, medium and large players keen to get in on the action.
With its combination of communities, social networking and task-based activities, as well as a host of supporting social capabilities, Lotus Connections is unusual in that it spans both the people-centric, social side of collaboration and the (currently less fashionable, and yet perhaps more valuable from a business justification viewpoint) project-centric side which is more commonly associated with document-focused team workspaces. With the latest version, which was announced last week, IBM has added yet more strings to its bow. New features and enhancements include:
However, to my mind, the most significant enhancements are these:
These last two are important for several reasons. In the case of recommendations, the area of social analytics is a major innovation and differentiation area at present, and in a market where there is so much competition, it’s important that IBM is not seen as lagging behind, particularly given the wealth of development resource it has at its fingertips in the form of IBM Research Labs. That’s not to say that it’s got this area licked now – recommendations are really only the tip of the iceberg, and there is much more that IBM can do to enable trend analysis using social analytics. In the case of compliance and auditability, it’s staggering that this is only being introduced now – given the nature of IBM’s customer base, support for compliance is a no-brainer, and Connections was really starting to stand out among IBM’s portfolio for its lack of capability here. Still, it suggests that the product has now reached a level of importance within the customer base that means that IBM has had to prioritise this capability, which only says good things about how Connections’ traction is progressing.
Overall, with this latest release Lotus Connections seems to be moving out of that “new product” phase, and into a more mature stage of its lifecycle. It’s not perfect, but those kinks are becoming much harder to spot.
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