ORLANDO -- IBM is adding a Twitter-like tool, a new home page, its own wiki software and other features for the next version of its Lotus Connections social software for businesses.
Lotus Connections is a suite of profile, blog, activity, social bookmarking and community tools that help business workers connect with colleagues regardless of where they're based. IBM expects its new features to keep it well ahead of Google and Microsoft in enterprise social networking.
Due in mid-2009, the "Buzz" section in profiles for Lotus Connections 2.5 will include a feature called "status updates," ostensibly a microblogging service the company borrowed from its Beehive social networking research project.
Much like in Twitter, people can have threaded conversations. This builds on the friending capabilities in profiles IBM rolled out in Lotus Connections 2.0, Suzanne Minassian, product manager for IBM Lotus Connections, told eWEEK at Lotusphere 2009 Jan. 19.
"It's like Twitter in that you can go and update your status and everyone with permission in your network can see it. It's unlike Twitter in that it's tied to the profile," Minassian said. "If you don't have profiles, then you don't have the status updates, but when you do update your status it gets added to your Buzz and anybody can come and add a response."
By putting such a feature in its enterprise-grade social networking suite, IBM is joining the multitude of companies adding Twitter-style microblogging tools for the enterprise. Startups Socialcast, Yammer and Present.ly offers similar services, while enterprise wiki providers Socialtext and MindTouch also offer such features.
Following the introduction of custom widgets and Google gadgets for Lotus Connections 2.0, users of Connections 2.5 will see an aggregation of information of interest to the specific user.
Connections 2.5 calculates this by looking at who's in the user's network, who they are subscribed to, what tags they subscribe to and what communities they participate in. Moreover, if a user has published a comment anywhere -- a forum, a blog or a Dogear social bookmarking link -- IBM will bring those into the home page as well.
"We're trying to be a little smart about what it is we think you're going to be interested in," Minassian said, adding that users will be able to set filters on what that home page content may contain.
Speaking of redesigns, communities in Connections 2.5 has been retooled to be based on widgets. Community managers will be able to customize their communities using widgets. Every Lotus Connections service can feed into the communities, Minassian explained.
Connections 2.5 is going more mobile than ever, as IBM is adding its own Web browser support for mobile devices, including the Apple iPhone or Nokia Symbian smart phones.
Lotus Connections 2.5 will also include a files feature that lets users store files and share them with colleagues and communities in the Connections application, Minassian explained.
The file service will include ratings and recommendations for content. Users will subscribe to it similar to a blog or RSS feed. Users can sort it based on tags.
Finally, the new IBM wiki offers users an alternative to using the IBM Lotus Quickr wiki, as well as third-party wiki partners Socialtext and Atlassian.