CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- IBM Lotus on Wednesday offered a glimpse of its future collaboration strategy by demonstrating experimental new communication tools that it hopes will soon lead to big changes in the way that people work together.
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The new technologies fall into the areas of activity management, large scale collaboration and visualization, and collaborative application development. Big Blue officials said some of the new software will be available in IBM's Lotus Workplace suite as soon as this year.
Mike Rhodin, IBM Lotus' vice president of development, collaboration and human interaction software, said one of the chief themes behind the new software is the concept of combining ad hoc communications like instant messaging with shared workspaces.
"We think a new wave of collaborative technology is about to emerge," Rhodin said.
The applications demonstrated included:
ActivityExplorer allows co-workers to organize their online collaboration efforts into hierarchically structured document collections, or activity threads. Components of the file structure might include instant messages, files, folders, notes or screenshots.
ActivityExplorer is expected to ship next quarter as part of Workplace 3.0, Rhodin said.
IBM also hopes the ReMail will help workers stay organized by offering graphical representations of e-mail threads.
"ReMail is a comprehensive project that has been going on for awhile," Rhodin said. "Pieces of that are actually shipping in Notes 6.5 right now, including some of the automatic calendaring."
One of the speakers at IBM's press event yesterday, Thomas Malone, an MIT professor and the author of the The Future of Work, said that new collaboration technologies will lead to a substantial increase in individual freedom in business by providing employees with vast amounts of knowledge.
"New information technologies … are reducing the costs of communication to such a low level that even huge numbers of people even in very large organizations can [now] make decisions for themselves instead of just following orders from above them in a hierarchy," Malone said.