Lotus grabs onto social media, but can they convert the naysayers?

From its Iris Associates roots, Lotus has rallied the "connectiveness" banner -- through the industry's latest labels: groupware, collaboration and, now, community. Lotusphere 2007 rallied around social computing.
Written by Maurene Caplan Grey, Contributor

From its Iris Associates roots, Lotus has rallied the "connectiveness" banner -- through the industry's latest labels: groupware, collaboration and, now, community. Lotusphere 2007 rallied around social computing. New entrants, Lotus Quickr (code-named Geneva) and Lotus Connections (code-named Ventura), renewed the rally.

Lotus Quickr is a "TeamSpace" (aka team room) in which member content is created. Check-in/check-out library services and connectors to other applications, significantly Microsoft Office, provide content transfer services between TeamSpace members.

In IBM-speak:

Lotus Quickr is designed to empower grassroots, bottoms-up adoption by letting users invite and encourage others to participate and to bring about change in the way the organization manages information and works together.

In Maurene-speak, Lotus Quickr is a collaborative content manager. Conceptually, content is created by Quickr TeamSpace  members. The members may use a variety of media to create the content -- such as, a project plan using a Quickr template, transcripts of persistent chat sessions or Webcam .wav files. Members may edit the context of the content. Members may change  the format of the content -- for example, turning a spreadsheet into a graph that is placed in a blog post. Content can be syndicated using RSS

If you want more information on Lotus Quickr, check out the 1,943 links (as of the time of this writing) on Technorati

I was not at Lotusphere, rather I'm blogging from New York. I missed the excitement, glitter and, most importantly, the vendor's freebies. However, being on the outside (of Lotusphere) looking in allows for crystal ball perspectives. 

Reasonably, Quickr includes a connector to Sametime. Think how useful it would be for Quickr-created content to be "availability" presence aware. If you use any instant messaging network, no doubt you think of presence as the online (or availability) status of your contact (aka buddy). Availability can also be assigned to content. For example, a project team member is preparing a report. You need to know immediately when it becomes available. The report is completed, and a trigger changes the report's online status from "unavailable" to "available."

Presence, similar to RSS, serves as a notification mechanism.

The other new entrant, Lotus Connections, is the cornerstone of Lotus's social networking venture. The Connections platform groups five social media components: Profiles, Communities, Blogs, Bookmarks (called Dogear) and Activities. Lotus is betting Connections on the "wisdom of crowds" theory -- that is, the aggregation of information from all participants results in better decision making. 

In Lotus-speak:

Lotus Connections speeds growth and unlocks the collective knowledge base within an organization. Through an integrated set of social software components, Lotus Connections delivers critical new capabilities to users while helping enterprises become more productive.

In Maurene-speak, Lotus Connections is a "come as you are" party -- hosted by aggregator toolsets. The goal is to port the successes of social media in the consumer space into the business space. If you want more information on Lotus Connections, check out the 2024 links (as of the time of this writing) on Technorati

In reference to Lotus Connections, my crystal ball tells me that content derived from Connections social media could also be captured into and treated as Quickr content. Social media tools merely take a different approach at gathering information.  

Lotus's progressive stance has been their strength and their weakness. Post-Lotusphere, the viability of Quickr and Connections will rest upon perception.

As Donna Bogatin points out in Social enterprise: Oxymoron or business logic?

Can software really break down organizational barriers to unlock “hidden” enterprise knowledge assets and foster intra-company sharing? OR  Is the organization destined– doomed–to reflect a “me first” modus operandi?

In addition to the "me first" mindset, in True Believers and Naysayers: Exploring the World of Social Media Karen Christensen looks at the social media world through the the eyes of evangelists and skeptics. The evangelists are:

... almost fanatical about (social media). ... the tent-meeting atmosphere of a lot of conference keynotes ... a future dominated by online interaction.

Where as, the skeptics are:

... the detractors. I'm thinking of the senior business development person who said, "Social what?" when I asked what her company ... was doing to incorporate social media into its online platform.

Not everyone knows the difference between a wiki and a blog.

and why should they? Social media is widely considered to be "soft," which is another way of saying "where's the hard-dollar return on investment?" When an investment in social media can be tangibly shown to improve revenue, then the naysayers will take notice.

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