IBM Lotus Ventura – IBM’s Take of Social Software within the Enterprise

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If yesterday I mentioned how I was creating a new category here in this weblog to talk about all things happening inside IBM around the world of Knowledge Management, Collaboration, Communities and Social Computing, I think that folks are going to be pretty excited about this particular weblog post I am starting up right now. Lots of people have been wondering all along what is IBM’s take towards social software adoption within the enterprise. Quite a few still think that IBM’s software division is all about Lotus Notes and everything else related to Lotus products, and although certainly Lotus Notes is still going rather strong (Watch out for the Lotusphere event in 2007!) there is no denying that things are about to change and big time!

Not only with the already available Lotus Sametime 7.5, next generation of both IM and VoIP for the enterprise, but with something else that a few of my IBM colleagues have been mentioning already and something that I am really excited about: Lotus Ventura. Yes, indeed, yesterday it was uncovered over at Cote’s weblog post IBM SWG: Lotus "Ventura" and right away it has been picking up some more steam with James Snell, Elias Torres and Andy Piper.

Lotus Ventura is supposed to be IBM’s adventure (Pun intended ;-)) into the social computing world for the enterprise. Yes, once again, that IBM 2.0 thing. And as you may have been able to read already over at Cote’s weblog post Ventura would be an application that will integrate a number of different social software tools that, as James mentioned, some of us, inside of IBM, have been using for years now!:

1. IBM’s BluePages (a.k.a. IBM’s employee directory): So that expertise location within the enterprise can be easier than ever having access not only to knowledge workers but also to the information behind those same knowledge workers. That is, their information.
2. Dogear: IBM’s social bookmarking application: and which I have talked about over here a few times already.
3. Activities: Of which you would be able to read some more about on the presentation I shared yesterday over here from Mike Roche (Slides 6, 23, 46 and 49) and of which I will talk about some time later on.
4. Communities: Given my role as a community builder and knowledge manager, this is actually one of the components that I will be really looking forward to and that, as time goes by, I will be able to share some further details on it.
5. Roller: Or, as we all know, weblogging; yes, that is right. Ventura will have a component that would connect knowledge workers with the world of weblogs using the Roller weblogging engine, which is basically what we have been using as well inside IBM with Blog Central. I have been keeping my Intranet weblog over there for nearly three years and it would be an incredible experience to be able to see it integrate nicely into Ventura’s other components. Nifty!
6. Integration with other components: Like search or Lotus Sametime 7.5, amongst others. Actually with the inclusion of that integration with Sametime 7.5 we would be getting the best out of both worlds, synchronous and asynchronous collaboration. And all that available from a single point of entry. Can it get better than this ? Hummm. I don’t think so.

Anyway, there you go. A quick and brief description of how IBM will be entering the space of social computing within the enterprise and how IBM will try to make sense of the so-called Enterprise 2.0 with something as cool as Lotus Ventura (Yes, watch out for Lotusphere 2007!!). Exciting times ahead for all of us who feel strongly about social computing within the enterprise as the next big thing to help improve knowledge sharing and collaboration and try to bring some more sense into an unbalanced environment where explicit knowledge has been on top for far too long.

But more to come later on, I am sure.

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Worth while sharing it along?


  • Luis, it it inteteresting to report to you that your entry about Lotus Ventura has been ranked No.1 on my blog for these 3 consecutive days according to Goole Analytics. I can not tell why, since there are no specific comment so far.My blog is, as you may already know, a sort of IBM centric repository of articles, so most of the recurring visitors may be keeping track of what going on whithin IBM

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  • Luis Suarez says:

    Hi folks! Thanks a lot for stopping by and for the feedback comments ! Greatly appreciated, indeed!

    Sawada-san, that is certainly some terrific piece of news and I am really glad that people are getting excited about what IBM is doing around the topic of social computing, even more now that a whole bunch of announcements have gone live at IBM’s Lotusphere 2007, which I am starting to share some insights about over here. Thus stay tuned because there will be many more updates coming up as we get along.

    Tim, appreciated the trackback to your account on the different happenings at the Lotusphere 2007 event. It is certainly incredibly helpful to be able to read up what you guys have been up to and get all that positive feedback coming through. Keep up the good work and keep weblogging!

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  • [...] We’re Changing.. We are about to define a historical moment in the worlds of business and technology. A great change is under way, causing companies to be more organized, innovative and creative in their pursuit of value creation. Enterprise 2.0 is that change, and it’s all about collaboration. Today, companies are competing by thinking and acting Global. To that end, they are hiring people who are excellent at innovating, managing resources and knowledge, and building brands. This new focus of knowledge work and innovation combined with recent advances in Web and Mobile technology come together to be the driving force behind Enterprise 2.0. Enterprise 2.0 is about collaboration and connectivity Harvard Business School Associate Professor Andrew McAfee’s definition of Enterprise 2.0 is: “…the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.“ What’s interesting here is his use of the ’social’ in the definition of Enterprise 2.0. Upon first thinking on the subject, one may not think that the social component of Enterprise 2.0 is relevant. But when we look at just how much innovation, knowledge, and teamwork is about social collaboration, we realize that ’social’ may just be the beating heart of Enterprise 2.0. The social component isn’t really new either; teams and workgroups have been using less ‘formalized’ social collaboration for years now through exchanging a continuous stream of emails, file-attachments, and even through the use of instant message before it was coined ‘enterprise IM.’ So Enterprise 2.0 is really about social collaboration of people within an organization, and with other stakeholders outside of the organization. Another important component of such a model is the living nature of the content. As people continue to interact with the system, they are enhancing content (and often times, knowledge) in a somewhat permanent way. This way, the content is reusable from all points of view, and works to solve the all-too-common versioning problem. McAfee provides a great mnemonic to help people keep some of the pillars of Enterprise 2.0 straight: SLATES. S – Search : discoverability of information drives reuse, leverage and ROI L – Links : Using URIs to forge thousands of deep interconnections between enterprise content A – Authorship : Ensuring every worker has easy access to enterprise 2.0 platforms, and can be a contributor. T – Tags :Allowing natural organic, on-the-fly organization of data from every point of view. E – Extensions : Extend knowledge by mining patterns and user activity S – Signals : Make information consumption efficient by pushing out changes to people Looking closely at the above, it’s easy to notice that these mnemonic is missing at least one key component, the social piece. Dion Hinchcliffe, a very popular Enterprise 2.0 blogger, has worked to take this mnemonic even further, and has introduced a new termed call ‘FLATNESSES’. F : Freeform L : Links A : Authorship T : Tagging N : Network-Oriented E : Extensions S : Search S : Social E : Emergence S : SignalsThis new definition is certainly more encompassing. More can be read on it his article entitled The state of Enterprise 2.0. Why is Enterprise 2.0 here? Enterprise 2.0 is here because of the deficiencies in existing platforms and IT models. It enables organizations to overcome certain detrimental and limiting behaviors and conventions in the systems that we are all too used to. Again, McAfee does an excellent job of explaining some of these limitations. In his article titled ‘Enterprise 2.0′ in the Sloan Management Review, he says: “As I type these words I don’t know the best site to serve as the link behind the abbreviation ‘RSS’ in the previous sentence. To find this site, I’m going to type ‘RSS’ into Google and see what pops up (sure enough, the Wikipedia entry for ‘RSS’ was pretty high in Google’s results). I also don’t know the URL of the page I’m using right now to type this blog entry. I do know that it’s on my page, tagged as ‘APMblog,’ so I can find it whenever I want. And I don’t know what work my three collaborators on a research project are doing right now; I just know that when any of them has some results to share or a new draft of the paper they’ll post it on the project’s wiki (which is powered by Socialtext) and I’ll immediately get an RSS notification about it. ” McAfee is describing how someone thinks and acts in the Web 2.0 world, and he is clearly working to show just how much using the right tools will impact productivity of individuals and teams. This is the nature of Enterprise 2.0 — productivity drives profit. What is happening in Enterprise 2.0? A significant amount of progress in the world of Enterprise 2.0 has been made in recent years, and many of us feel that this is only the beginning. Some of the most popular innovations in Enterprise 2.0 are Wikis, Blogs, Mashups, Online Communities, Social Bookmarking, and Social Networking. So what makes the cut as an Enterprise 2.0 tool or platform? Services that are typically aimed at consumers and often supported by advertisements do not qualify as Enterprise 2.0, according to Forrester. Tools based on concepts of Web 2.0, but used for collaboration of enterprise knowledge workers are best classified as Enterprise 2.0. Some of the more notable tools and platforms are:, Microsoft Sharepoint, Movable Type , Parlano, Koral , JackBe, Blogtronix, ConnectBeam, IBM – Lotus Ventura, KnowNow, SuiteTwo by Intel. How big is Enterprise 2.0? Defining the market size of something as wide-reaching as Enterprise 2.0 is not a simple task. The best we can really do is speculate, and the most interesting speculation I’ve seen so far has come out of Forrester Research, where they note that it will be a $4.6 billion industry by 2013. To be honest, that seems like a pretty significant undershot, if you ask me. Enterprise 2.0 aims to lay at the core of collaboration and connectivity inside (and outside) of some of the biggest organizations on Earth. In the new knowledge economy, productivity is king. And most of us will stop at nearly nothing to get more of it. So, is Enterprise 2.0 a good thing? This seems to be the question on everyone’s mind: Why should I care about Enterprise 2.0? An interesting discussion recently took place between Andrew McAfee and Tom Davenport. Tom argues that “A lot of things in wikis could have been done in Lotus Notes.” Should we get hyped up about a new generation of technology when the old technology could do a lot of the same things? ” and the McAfee responded with “I would never say it was impossible to collaborate before 2004. That would be ridiculous,” the then added “My only point is that the toolset for doing so is much better.” Both these experts make good points, which lays at just how complex this matter is. We have to remember that we are currently in a slice of time right now where all the ramnifications and permutations of Enterprise 2.0 are yet to play out. I agree with Tom Davenport in that things are, in many ways, more hype than functionality. But McAfee’s point definitely stands: tools are better today than they were a few years ago. In my mind, Enterprise 2.0 is definitely a good thing for the productivity of organizations at large. If nothing else, people are thinking about (and getting frustrated with) the way that they manage knowledge and collaboration today. I don’t think wiki-grade technologies will be an end-all solution to the current problems of collaboration and management of knowledge. Today’s Enterprise 2.0 technology is only setting the stage for the types of tools that will really fundamentally shift the way we work together. Those are the types of tools that excite me, and I am pretty sure that they are coming. Related Search Links: Tom Davenport, the president’s chair in information technology and management at Babson College in Wellesley. Andrew McAfee, an associate professor at Harvard Business School [...]

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