Lotusphere 2011 opening session: mobile, social business has arrived

Lotusphere Opening General Session So IBM’s premier social business event, Lotusphere 2011, is now fully underway.

Who better to get things started than Hollywood legend Kevin Spacey: few have done a better job of capturing the zeitgeist. Whether it’s a portrait of middle-aged, middle-America ennui in American Beauty or producing the Aaron Sorkin-scripted dissection of the rise and rise of Facebook (‘The Social Network’), Kevin Spacey is a man with his proverbial finger on the pulse. (If you missed it, I can recommend his recent appearance on the Colbert Report). “Stay open and listen to other’s points of view” is one of his takeaways.

Key themes from this year’s opening:

Marketing page creation

The energetic Brian Cheng shows off some of the powerful new features of Lotus Connections 3 (LC3) for building an external web presence. Drag-and-drop functionality allows a marketer to build a web landing page on the fly – fully incorporating those social features demanded by the market today. You can even see how the experience will be for someone who is logged in to the community (eg. maybe they see their network connections and have the ability to comment on specific parts of the page) versus what a new visitor will see. Full integration with Coremetrics and SugarCRM means you have can see instantly just how well the page is performing.

Interesting development from Lotus Connections given its general perception as an intranet tool. Will we see a further crumbling of the iron curtain that separates the intranet from the external presence of an organization? 

The mobile experience

As mobile usage continues to soar, we demand more of our web applications to be accessible from our smart phones as we wait in line for our Chai Tea Latte. This morning we see multiple demonstrations of just how LC3 performs in the mobile space. Cheng shows how marketing pages created with the Customer Experience Suite can have a specific look for a specific device (in this case demonstrating how the site will appear on an iPad). We also see how presentations shared within LC3 can also be viewed via a Blackberry app. The Sametime messaging system will have mobile support, making it easier to get on the phone when your Sametime instant-messaging chat conversation goes south.

Video support

During the demo, the Lotus Connections team show new web-based video capabilities integrated with enterprise communications systems like Polycom. For instance, video conferencing a la Skype can be embedded directly into the page of a presentation, creating a more interactive experience. The team showcases web-based video so there is no need for the installation of any plugins. Not quite sure what technology underpins this but there is the announcement of a big commitment to HTML5 in the later press conference (yey!). 

Sub-communities

So you want to organize your communities by brand, function, department, etc. LC 3 now supports sub-communities so that you can group together related networks. All settings (including permissions) can be defined at the sub-community level. So, for instance, you can use one sub-community to surface part of a project for external stakeholders whilst keeping the internal workflows more private.

Integration of mail and social

Activity streams can be woven into the mail experience (regardless of mail server) so a user can see all conversation in a single interface. No doubt this will continue to grow and form the segue of modern corporate communications, especially amongst the younger workforce who relate to email the way I relate to fax technology.

So, a lot to look forward to in the next three days in Orlando as IBM’s vision of social business unfolds.

Be sure to check out the live stream recording and live blogging from ReadWriteWeb.

Photo courtesy of Jacques Pavlenyi.

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