So we've told you about the latest version of IBM Connections, unveiled at Lotusphere 2012 this morning. But that's not all IBM announced. We also saw a new socially enabled enterprise content management solution and a brand new cloud-based productivity suite.
The SmartCloud Grows
Another big piece of news announced this morning was the rebranding of the LotusLive offering under the new official IBM SmartCloud for Social Business. This means that all of IBM's cloud-offerings, such as LotusLive, Commerce, Analytics and other industry specific solutions will all live under one single brand.
A new Social Business Toolkit is being offered to help organizations build custom solutions integrated with LotusLive content. These OpenSocial APIs will provide access to profiles, contacts, meetings, files and community data, enabling organizations to make their business applications more social.
IBM Docs -- Cloud-based Productivity
A new capability in the SmartCloud for Social Business is IBM Docs. No this has nothing to do with Lotus Symphony, It's a brand spanking new cloud-based productivity suite that will offer word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software via the browser.
IBM Docs is not a basic productivity suite. It is socially-enabled, providing the ability to collaborate on documents stored within IBM SmartCloud Engage. Features such as co-editing in real time, commenting and document section assignment are just two of the capabilities of this new suite.
IBM Docs is currently in beta, but is expected to be offered as both an on-premise and in the cloud solution.
Wondering what the plan is for Lotus Symphony? Schick told us that the rich-client code based has been put into the Apache Foundation where it is to be used in the OpenOffice codebase.
Social Content Management
Today at Lotusphere, the new Connections Enterprise Content Edition was also introduced. This is socially-enabled content management, including compliance capabilities like those announced for Connections last June.
It's this solution that will enable you to store all your documents within the Enterprise CMS repository, but work on it through social tools, like the new IBM Docs, or Connections activity stream.
While email has come to social via Connections Mail, it still true that many users prefer to live within their inboxes. With that in mind IBM has announced a beta release of Lotus Notes and Domino, Social Edition. This new edition will enable users to build processes can be accessed directly within email, again using the OpenSocial standard. So, as Connections offers the ability to work on third party content directly within its platform, you will also now be able to work on third party content directly within Lotus Notes.
Expanding on Mobile Offerings
IBM has also said that there are plans to support the new Windows 7 phone for future releases of LotusNotes Traveler. That would pretty much bring support to all of the major mobile devices.
And finally, IBM is offering a new lower-cost program that will over cloud-based email for BlackBerry users.
Should Microsoft Be Concerned?
IBM has this incredible vision of Social Business. Through a combination of platforms and partnerships (like the one with Dachis Group), it is fulfilling this vision. Analytics are at the heart of everything IBM is doing, and that's a very important thing to understand. You can offer all the communities and social networks in the world, write all the blogs and read all the activity streams you want, but while that may make you more social, it's not necessarily going to make you a more effective, productive business. You need deep analytics to help you be both.
When I was going through all the new announcements and talking to Jeff Schick, my mind turned to what Microsoft is doing with Office 365, SharePoint and its other platform offerings. It's not at the same level. The question is, does it need to be? I'm thinking through my response to that. Curious to hear yours.