IBM bringing Web 2.0 to corporate workers

IBM's "Web 2.0 Goes to Work" initiative brings Web 2.0 technologies to the enterprise

IBM is making a big push into the Web 2.0 world with a team collaboration product, social computing software and a suite of tools for building Web mashups.

As part of a new "Web 2.0 Goes to Work" initiative, the IBM tools will bring popular consumer Web 2.0 technologies like blogs, wikis and social networks to the enterprise, IBM's vice-president of emerging technologies, Rod Smith, said. The new software should help companies more easily brainstorm and collaborate with partners and customers about business content, he said.

"[Enterprises] would like to get closer to customers ... to be able to collaborate with them on ideas and projects," Smith said. "We've now figured out the suites that need to be integrated so people can unlock their information and use it in ways they couldn't before."

The new Lotus Quickr 8 team collaboration tool helps companies use blogs, wikis and team space templates to share business documents and access libraries through plug-ins, IBM said. Quickr 8 will be available June 29.

Quickr software features include:

-- Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) technology for building Web-based user interfaces, and to let users publish and consume news feeds, publish team blogs and use wikis; -- Business application templates that support common business processes like a meeting place, project management, image repository and dynamic surveys; -- Support for Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007, Windows Explorer on Windows XP and Vista, IBM Lotus Notes 7 and 8 and Lotus Sametime 7.5; -- Support for Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari Browsers; and -- Tutorial wizards to guide users.

In addition, the company announced plans to add a beta plug-in to support Microsoft Outlook for Lotus users this summer.

IBM Tuesday also announced that Lotus Connections is now available. The Connections tool includes Web 2.0 components like bookmarking and support for social communities, the company said. For example, a user can begin a chat session from within a community or a blog and share this information with others by adding a transcript of the chat to be accessed by other Lotus applications, IBM said.

In addition, IBM introduced Info 2.0, a new suite of tools for customising and linking Web and enterprise data into mashups, or applications created by linking different data sources like Google Maps and weather reports. For many companies, mashups are seen as the "last mile" in building a service-oriented architecture (SOA), Smith said.

Mashups can be used to help personnel in a companies lines of business more easily link different Web-services enabled pieces of a business process, enabling them to more quickly build an application, he added.

IBM, he added, is in essence "flipping" much of its traditional marketing around SOA that began with using Web services for back-end integration and eventually reusing the services to build new applications.

This change is prompted by users saying, "build the applications for me and people see how they want to continue using SOA to expand out and integrate with their infrastructure," he said.