IBM to Launch IBM Docs with a Collaborative Service Similar to Google Apps


IBM is set to launch IBM Docs as part a collaborative service similar to Google Apps that it is calling the IBM SmartCloud for Social Business. As part of the effort, IBM is placing its LotusLive services under the SmartCloud name, which now encompasses IBM’s “smarter commerce,” brand, analytics and industry specific solutions such as its Smarter Cities efforts.

IBM says the new cloud service will encompass social networking, online meeting capabilities, email, a calendar system and instant messaging. In essence, it appears that IBM is making its Lotus suite available as a service, consumed within a corporate environment or potentially as a core cloud service.

But IBM Docs is the big surprise. Now in beta, the service will become available later this year.  IBM calls IBM Docs a social document platform that has features quite similar to Google Docs. People may collaborate on documents both inside and outside the firewall. Document types in IBM Docs include word processing, spreadsheet and presentation documents. Features include co-editing and the ability to partition parts of the document so multiple authors on a tean may work without distraction.

As part of the new Social Business SmartCloud, IBM is also releasing the next-generation of its social networking platform, IBM Connections. It’s more so in the analytics capabilities that IBM can really show its strength. I want to see it for myself but IBM says it can do analytics on data collected from people and sensors to provide insight for business decisions and predict market shifts and resulting actions.

My question: Where does Watson fit in?

Project Vulcan Lives On

The legacy of Project Vulcan lives on in IBM SmartCloud for Social Business. Though mostly a concept, Project Vulcan represents a philosophical shift toward openness and universal access that we see emerging at IBM. You can see this in the new Social Business Toolkit for LotusLive. It allows customers and business partners to build custom applications that work with LotusLive services. Interestingly, IBM is using the OpenSocial APIs to get access to profiles contacts, meetings, files and community data.

Social Networking with Compliance

“IBM Connections Enterprise Content Edition,” which puts social networking in an enterprise content management environment. In other words, its social networking with compliance built in.

This is where we see the heavy influence of the activity stream, a theme I expect to hear more about tomorrow.

IBM cites this example:

For example, a business manager can get notified in the Connections activity stream that an expense report is ready for approval. Without leaving the news feed, the manager can click on the notification and reach out to their social network to make inquiries on expenses incurred and reimbursement guidelines, allowing her to quickly approve or decline the expense report without having to leave Connections and log into the company’s expense reporting business application. Managers benefit from the embedded experience of the expense reporting application while leveraging the social network and community-based resources.

A Social Edition and Mobil News

The news from IBM this week seems more focused on social than mobile efforts.  IBM is doing a bit of  social overhaul to IBM Lotus Notes and Domino with a new “Social Edition.” It allows for “social-enabled messaging and collaboration platform built on open standards that provides users with the ability to act on any work flow process directly within the email inbox. ”

Mobile news will cover support for Microsoft Windows Phone in a future release of IBM Lotus Notes Traveler. It is Traveler which enables people to use IBM mail, calendar, and contacts on mobile devices. IBM says he expects to support Nokia Lumia, HTC and other Windows Phone devices in the future.

Overall, the news about IBM Docs shows how the concept of full document collaboration has met mainstream acceptance.  What we don’t see is much talk about mobile. Perhaps they are saving that news for later this week.