IBM unveils the Social Business Toolkit: the dawn of the ‘everything inbox’

What if your company inbox could show you a lot more than just emails? What if you could see all the recent blog posts by those in your network. And the presentations they’ve recently posted? What if you could also see updates from that revenue tool you check every week to see whether you’re on-target to hit that all-important quarterly quota? Oh, and voicemails: can they be added to the stream too?

Such dreams (and more) can be realized with the launch at Lotusphere this week of the IBM Social Business Toolkit. This package includes a set of APIs that can be used by developers to feed updates into the Lotus Connections Activity Stream (effectively a corporate version of the Facebook Wall). The big news here is that whilst in the past this was restricted to activity that took place within the Lotus Connections environment (blogs, groups, tasks, etc.), the toolkit cracks open this functionality, allowing for updates from any application. With APIs based on all popular web development frameworks, exactly what gets pumped into the Activity Stream is limited only by a developer’s imagination. Integrate this stream into your email client and you have an inbox that goes way beyond showing just your latest emails.

What bloggers are saying about the Social Business Toolkit

Dan Burger, writing in the IT Jungle puts the toolkit in the context of IBM’s wider social business play. With Lotus Connections now becoming available on every major mobile platform, the Activity Stream becomes a central repository available anywhere:  

"An example of this could be a report from a sales analyst prompting a team meeting, or other business systems on premise or in the cloud. It conveniently allows a user to view and interact with the Activity Stream from a central location. IBM has indicated it will integrate the Activity Stream into the next version of social collaboration products accessible from mobile devices."

Meanwhile, Alex Williams on ReadWriteWeb sees the Social Business Toolkit is an implementation of a technology which is gaining widespread adoption in the consumer market, suggesting "Developing a tool kit is a smart, natural step and a necessary one for IBM."

Over ten days ago, the prescient James Governor alluded to this announcement when stating the need of IBM to produce solutions meaningful to developers as well as the line of business crowd:

"The winner in any tech wave is the best packager- so far no enterprise company has nailed and packaged the web development wave."

With the social business toolkit, are we seeing the first iteration of such a package?

IBM’s own Luis Benitez does a good job of summing up the Social Business Toolkit:

"The idea is to take all your existing apps (and even those from 3rd party vendors) and merge all the activity and information across those existing silos into a single, unified view (or stream)"

and goes so far as to show an early-stage mock-up:

Interested in learning more about creating an ‘everything inbox’ with the Social Business Toolkit? We have more information on developerWorks.

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