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IBM Tweaks Lotus Connections for Web 2.0

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IBM on Tuesday announced a series of new social networking tools and features for its Lotus Connections 2.5 software, giving users an opportunity to better customize and manage their collaborative enterprise applications.

IBM (NYSE: IBM) and all the other top-tier business application providers including Microsoft, Google, SAP and Oracle have made no secret of their desire to bring consumer applications derived in the social networking arena into the enterprise to improve productivity, collaboration and drive new sales.

“With Lotus Connections, we have merged document sharing and social networking capabilities to create a comprehensive collaboration platform for businesses,” Jeff Schick, vice president of IBM’s social software group, said in a statement. “Today’s announcement showcases how IBM is delivering easy access to a company’s two most valuable assets — people and information.”

Connections 2.5 now includes a new Web-based file sharing library for users to update and securely share presentations and documents. The software includes tagging, rating and recommendation features that help colleagues view, share and provide feedback on content.

The update improves upon the “Communities” section by letting workers customize their pages, add and move around widgets on the main community page. It adds photos and what IBM is calling a more conversational feel to the collaborative pages.

IBM officials said the wiki service will let users create, view, edit and contribute to content that’s uploaded to the collaborative Web site. The “Profiles” service now features a micro-blogging feature for workers to post status updates on the projects they’re working on, ask for help and offer comments on projects as they progress.

It also adds integrated mobile support for the iPhone and Nokia S60 mobile devices that allows users to access the Lotus Connections “Profiles,” “Activities” and blog services.

IBM said NEC Electronics and Sogeti are among the early adopters of the new Connections collaboration platform.

Separately, Big Blue announced what it’s calling the BlackBerry Enterprise Services solution, a comprehensive managed service designed to ease the inherent support and management headaches associated with BlackBerrys and other mobile devices.

The service consolidates the technical, administrative and licensing costs of the BlackBerry Enterprise solution, allowing enterprises to project and budget mobility costs and optimize BlackBerry Enterprise Server environments to scale with business demands, IBM officials said.

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