Friday, August 3, 2007

Integrated is best?

IBM and Microsoft are moving rapidly to integrate the most popular elements of social computing into single integrated product suites. Of the two, IBM in my opinion has the most impressive effort to-date with Lotus Connections. This suite is centered on a Facebook style person profile which propagates itself as a corporate directory. Tagging is well supported as is a rather good social book marking facility inherited from IBM’s internal Dogear program. There is also good integrated support for blogging. Surprisingly there is no wiki (you have to look to another product: Lotus Quickr for this and even then you get a very basic wiki). Despite its name, Connections is not a Notes/Domino application, it runs on WAS.

I should also mention the work being done by Spikesource. They produce a package based on the Socialtext wiki product bundled with a number of open source tools to provide other aspects of social computing.

Last week I attended a ZDNet/Forrester webinar on Enterprise 2.0 They pointed to a demand from enterprises for integrated suites.

From the point of view of an IT guy. One that has to deliver real-world working solutions, a truly integrated package is an attractive proposition.

When I showed Connections to Euan Semple, however he was less than enthusiastic. He pointed out that when all the tools (wiki, blog, forum) are bundled together in the one tool, users got confused as to how they were supposed to use each element.

I can certainly appreciate that a fair amount of user training would be required to get Connections off the ground within the enterprise.

Once we get our hosted Confluence wiki onto our own servers I want to pursue the provision of workforce blogs via Confluences’ News tag coupled with personal spaces (not available on hosted) and also to explore the book marking plug-in (though I am led to believe this might not quite work in the way one would expect)

Any thoughts?