At the company's annual Lotusphere customer conference in Orlando, Fla., Big Blue introduced two new products--Lotus Connections and Lotus Quickr--and articulated its overall strategy for incorporating so-called social networking with its corporate customers.
IBM also said that the next major version of its Notes client software, code-named Hannover, will be available by the middle of this year, with a public beta coming out next month.
As previously reported, IBM is seeking to incorporate tools popular with consumers on the Web, such as shared Web bookmarks and blogs, into its collaboration software.
Lotus Connections, which IBM calls a social-networking tool, allows knowledge workers to find colleagues of similar interests and to share information easily, according to the company.
The application provides a dashboard view of colleagues' workplace activities, as well as blogs, profiles and listings of work-related communities employees belong to. These tools have been optimized for use within corporations with the addition of more robust security and the ability to audit information, said Michael Rhodin, the general manager of IBM's Lotus division.
"Enterprises are very, very cautious about letting information flow outside their boundaries," he said. "But what they do want to do is speed up the flow of information inside the business."
Lotus Connections will be made available in the second quarter of this year, executives said.
Lotus Quickr is a content-sharing application that integrates with Lotus Notes, IBM's SameTime instant-messaging software and Microsoft Office. The software is designed to allow people to set up a shared content repository and invite co-workers into it.
The first version of Lotus Quickr will be available in the second quarter with a follow-on personal edition due in the third quarter, according to IBM executives.