The most logical way for IBM’s Lotus group to beat Microsoft’s SharePoint team in the collaboration software market is to ship more units of software. Failing that, IBM could convince disgruntled SharePoint customers to migrate their data to Lotus.
Specifically, IBM is working to move as many customers as possible from SharePoint to its Lotus Quickr team collaboration software, which allows enterprises to share content such as documents, photos and videos and to work together on projects through wikis and blogs.
IBM Lotus on May 2 added another weapon in this battle with Lotus Quickr Content Integrator, which helps migrate data from SharePoint repositories and Exchange folders into Quickr team work spaces.
Lotus Quickr Content Integrator, which IBM is selling now for $320 per processor, comes as IBM is ratcheting up its Quickr offerings with a new version. This refreshed suite, Version 8.1, also includes tools to help move more customers to Lotus software.
Lotus Quickr 8.1 includes new connectors for Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Symphony, which lets users access content in team work spaces and content libraries directly from Microsoft Outlook, as well as IBM’s Lotus Symphony office suite and Lotus Connections enterprise social networking tools.
New features for users and IT
There are also new features that allow automatic versioning of documents to help track updates and feeds that populate the “what’s new” section of team work spaces. This is similar to the way a user sees how many new stories populate an RSS feed reader, such as Blogger or Bloglines.
Quickr 8.1 also features a new dashboard for IT managers to use in managing enterprise deployments of Lotus Quickr. The dashboard includes statistical reports to give admins more insight into how workers are using Quickr, as well as the ability to search and set policies and permissions in work spaces by type and owner.
Available May 1, Quickr 8.1, like previous versions of the software, costs $70 per user for a perpetual license.
Finally, IBM is giving the much maligned e-mail attachment the heave-ho with Lotus Quickr Entry, a personal file-sharing space where users can post HTML links instead of sending content via dreaded e-mail attachments.
Lotus Quickr Entry is included in the latest version of Lotus Quickr and as a stand-alone offering available to Lotus Notes and IBM Lotus Domino Web Access customers at no additional charge.
Beating SharePoint Means Tying Lotus to Web 2.0 Tools
Clearly, IBM’s game plan for beating the powerful Microsoft SharePoint collaboration suite hinges on infusing its Lotus software unit with social computing tools that Microsoft doesn’t have yet, according to Jeff Schick, vice president of social networking for IBM Lotus.
According to Forrester Research analyst Rob Koplowitz, however, while SharePoint is certainly going to become a part of the landscape for a lot of organizations, most content providers will use both SharePoint and Lotus tools. “In a lot of cases it won’t be an either-or,” Koplowitz said.
Burton Group analyst Mike Gotta told eWEEK May 1 that SharePoint is like a “Swiss Army knife, and there is the hope that the platform solves historical gaps in Microsoft’s collaboration and content efforts.”
Gotta agreed with Schick that Microsoft’s social software tools, such as blogs and wikis, are not particularly strong, so the company is dependent on partners to fill those gaps. So how is IBM to capitalize on this with Quickr and Connections?
According to Gotta, IBM must appeal to existing clients that have an investment in Lotus but are looking for something that appeals to the enterprise crowds looking for Web 2.0 tools. At the same time, the company must provide an integration strategy for customers with mixed content management systems.
“IBM needs to continue to present options to enterprise decision makers and hope that there is some level of buyer’ s remorse down the road concerning SharePoint,” Gotta said. “If that happens, a Quickr plus Connections alternative could make sense. But again, in the short run-this seems defensive and appeals mostly to customers with an inclination to go with IBM in any case.”