It’s late January which means it’s time for the annual IBM Lotusphere conference. It also means migration offers to Microsoft Exchange.
Microsoft has developed an updated suite of tools aimed at making it easier to move applications written for IBM’s Notes client and Domino server to the latest version of Microsoft Office and Exchange Server.
The tools, which will be available for free within 30 days, include an administrative tool from migrating directory entries as well as application templates that work with SharePoint 2007, according to Microsoft.
Meanwhile IBM is getting buzz for their announcement of some Lotus social networking software for the corporate world:
Today the company plans to announce a set of social software tools that will bring the kind of blogging, idea sharing and war-story swapping typically associated with MySpace and Facebook, the social networking sites popular among teenagers and college students, to the corporate world.
Called Lotus Connections, the new software, expected later this year, will let employees set up virtual worlds in which they can meet like-minded colleagues within the company and exchange ideas with them, all in the name of improving productivity. And that’s just for starters.
The idea, said I.B.M.’s vice president for social software, Jeff Schick, is to “unlock the latent expertise in an organization.”
People have been trying to unlock “latent expertise” for years and it’s not clear that this kind of software really does all that much to overcome organizational arterial sclerosis, but social networking is all the fashion these days and if customers are willing to pay IBM for it, why not?
John Fontana at Network World has a general overview of Lotusphere and Steve Hamm at Business Week Online has a more effusive overview of the new IBM offerings including:
…a new package, called Lotus Quickr, which provides software connectors to link popular desktop applications including Microsoft Office to blogs, wikis, and other social networking programs.
The announcements come at a time when IBM’s $18 billion software group is on a tear. Software revenues increased 14% to $5.6 billion in the fourth quarter, and revenues in the Lotus division, where IBM’s collaboration software is produced, grew by more than 30%—powered in part by a new release of the company’s Lotus Sametime instant-messaging package.
IBM is in fierce competition with Microsoft in the markets for communications and collaboration software, and the Lotus Connections offering could give it a leg up—at least temporarily.
The operative word is “could,” but I suspect that given the cachet currently possessed by “social networking,” the pressure will be on Microsoft to come up with something similar for the corporate market or at least claim equivalent function from their current products.