lotus_logo.jpgLotus (news, site) updates its Connections software, adding more community features and collaboration tools. This new version looks primed to take on Microsoft SharePoint in the enterprise.

Connections Get a Major Upgrade

Version 2.5 of Lotus Connections, now heading towards its third birthday, is a major upgrade that adds a real sense of community to the product.

Connections sits on top of Lotus Notes and adds social media-style pages, wiki and blogging features to user systems.

Some of the new features for Connections 2.5 include:

  • The Twitter-like Profiles feature adds a micro-blogging tool, allowing staff to see what others are working on, and provide help and advice.
  • A new wiki feature provides the ability to collaboratively author and share documents, complete with versioning.
  • File-sharing (both personal and group) features for workers to share their presentations and other documents.
  • Roaming mobile users now get access through their iPhone or Nokia s60, can update their status, find people, and read and comment on blogs.
  • Existing search and community features have been beefed up to get groups better integrated and working together.
  • Community owners can add blogs, activities, wikis and file sharing features to their pages in addition to bookmarks, feeds and forums.

Check out the video for an overview of the new features. 

A Customized View Per User

Widgets are another big new element. Features and social apps are added as widgets and can be positioned on the page for a customized view for every user.

Naturally the focus is to get people working better and with the blogs, forums and other centers of knowledge, employees can collaborate and share information within Connections, rather than stray to third-party sites or applications where content cannot be so easily controlled.

Ready to Take on SharePoint

This latest release of Lotus Connections should move it farther into the enterprise collaboration space. Out of the box, it now has more social functionality than SharePoint does on its own. Which may be a big sell for large organizations. 

SharePoint still has the greater partner community that adds a lot more capabilities to its base platform. And SharePoint is not an out of the box solution. It is extensible to the point of creating custom applications and tight integration with back-end systems.

Although we aren't sure Connections 2.5 still packs enough punch to push SharePoint out of the enterprise, there will be many -- especially those on Lotus Notes -- who will take a hard look at it for their social and collaboration needs. 

The update was developed in IBM's Dublin Social Media Labs and aims to compete with the other big player's adventures into the social space. Learn more about the latest version on the Lotus Connections website.