The focus of this year's Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston can be summed up in one word: Collaboration. The event was teeming with solutions of similar structure, each with an aim to enhance the same concept. And while that might've been a let down for attendees hoping to see some variation, it certainly serves as an undeniable indicator of the future of business. Here are some of the highlights:

Big Fish = Big Suites

The biggest players at the conference were all about ramping up their suites: IBM (news, site) announced IBM Lotus Quickr 8.5, the company's social software for WebSphere Portal that helps employees connect via files, wikis, etc., Microsoft (news, site) discussed their internal video blogging system during a keynote, Novell (news, site) lifted the curtain off of simultaneous document editing, and Cisco (news, site)kicked out an entirely new platform complete with chat, wikis, blogs, social networking, VoIP capabilities, and a serious focus on policy and security.

As a brand new comer poised to give Microsoft and Google a teeny taste of their own medicine, Cisco's platform turned more than just a few heads.

"Cisco's vision for a new workspace is about empowering organizations with a broader range of collaborative experiences," said Tony Bates, Cisco's senior vice president and general manager, enterprise, commercial and small business. "Not only is it seamless and integrated, but it also gives people and teams the power to choose what combination of content, media, and devices will make them most productive."

Niche Players

Specialty vendors brought their game as well. Jive's (news, site) new filter, What Matters, feeds everything you you could possibly want to know about into one convenient location, including what questions are being asked about your organization, what your personal upcoming tasks are (these link in from other enterprise systems!), etc. 

nGenera (news, site) introduced Spaces, a "human-centered enterprise collaboration solution." The tool can be customized to integrate into organizations’ cultures, workflows, internal structures, and data sources.

“The enterprise-class capabilities of Spaces by nGenera will finally give IT the back-end functionality they need to maximize existing investments and achieve the scalability and security needed to enable their enterprise collaboration strategies,” said Tom Kelly, CEO of nGenera.

Socialtext (news, site) announced the release of Socialtext Connect beta, a new layer in the company's enterprise architecture that frees vital information housed within applications.

Learning Opportunities

"Our social software platform creates a social layer that spans departments, geographies and, now, systems," explained Eugene Lee, the CEO of Socialtext. "With Socialtext Connect, events and streams from enterprise applications can be syndicated and fully leveraged, in real-time, across the organization."

The SharePoint Imperative 

If anything was close to getting as much action as the collaboration concept, it was SharePoint. NewsGator unveiled a new framework for embedding social capabilities into enterprise applications (at the heart is NewsGator Social Sites 2010 with SharePoint 2010), and Mainsoft's (news, site) is a free sidebar for Microsoft Outlook that provides access SharePoint and Google Docs directly from within e-mail. 

Huddle (news, site), the company that took first place at this year's Microsoft SharePoint SocialFest, was around as well. Their solution is designed to help companies collaborate with their partners, allowing separate SharePoints to link together and bridge corporate firewalls.

And the Beat Goes On... 

Again, these are just a few of the highlights, but you get the gist. Everyone is all about collaboration, collaboration, and more collaboration. Best of all, it seems to have direction. This is a pretty drastic change from previous shows, when a lot of the focus was seemingly on technology for the sake of technogy. 

"...many of the products didn’t seem to have much of a business plan themselves, and products and vendors that were making money with their enterprise 2.0 offerings were few and far between," said Jim Rapoza of InformationWeek. "But after attending this week’s show, it may turn out that this is the year that enterprise 2.0 companies and products have finally arrived."

Do you agree or disagree? Let us know.