IBM has announced its next wave of social networking tools for business. Lotus Connections 2.0 and IBM Atlas for Lotus Connections feature a mix of new capabilities that blend IBM's business software with the Web 2.0 capabilities popular in consumer social networking Web sites.
The newest version of IBM Lotus Connections allows people to quickly grow their professional network of contacts by adding colleagues. The company says this business equivalent of "friending" helps people effectively manage their network and find expertise.
The new home page streams feeds from various components of Lotus Connections and shows people what is happening within their network. Widgets let people customize the main page and add links to external communities such as Facebook or custom business applications used within the organization.
Drawing on its experience in enterprise collaboration, IBM is expanding the tagging abilities of Lotus Connections to include people tagging. With the latest version, people can tag themselves or others based on a key topic or area of expertise. This allows individuals to instantly identify and retrieve live intellect on any given topic and tap into the collective wisdom of a larger group or pinpoint rare, niche expertise from the general population.
Tag clouds are displayed on a person's profile and throughout communities, making it easy to associate people with areas of expertise.
Additional new features in Lotus Connections include the ability to send or receive notifications to others about interesting social bookmarks, discussion forums and integration with wiki providers Atlassian and Social Text.
As a complementary offering to Lotus Connections, Atlas is a corporate social networking visualization and analysis tool. Atlas has four Web 2.0-based components -- My Net, Find, Reach and Net. These components help users spot the important connections and the relationships between various groups and navigate their personal and corporate networks.
The latest version includes several new features that help people find the right experts, while being able to quickly get a sense of activity within their network. New Atlas widgets can be added to a person's home page to show them how they are linked to someone, or suggest communities or blogs that people like them are participating in. This discovery process helps foster the exchange of ideas that leads to the creation of new products and services for customers.
IBM, Atlas and Lotus are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries or both. Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others.