ORLANDO, Fla. – BlackBerry users whose businesses run IBM Corp.’s Lotus productivity and collaboration suite will soon have a whole new range of mobile business capabilities, following a series of announcements by IBM and Research in Motion Ltd. at the annual Lotusphere conference Monday.
Mobility was a visible and persistent theme on the opening day of Lotusphere, as IBM seeks to enable the one billion mobile Web users the vendor predicts there will be globally by 2011. Bob Picciano, general manager of IBM Lotus Software, said there’s a paradigm shift happening with employees spending less and less time in the office. However, they still need to be productive, and have quick and seamless access to their business data.
“The answer is to provide more and more sophisticated applications optimized for the mobile environment,” said Picciano, adding the access device should be seamless when it comes to accessing needed business information.
Lotus already offers a degree of BlackBerry compatibility, but the announcements at Lotusphere take that a step further by enabling mobile access to Lotus Symphony documents, launching Lotus Quickr Web 2.0-based team software to help users find, share and edit business content, and enhancing Lotus Connections to allow access to blogs and communities. BlackBerry platform support for Lotus Domino Designer and XPages will enable XPages developers to write a rich application once for use on both the Web and the BlackBerry. The Symphony and Connections enhancements will be available in the second quarter, and the others in the second half of 2009.
As well, BlackBerry Storm support for Lotus Notes, Domino and Sametime was recently announced, as was a BlackBerry Client for Sametime, which enables the presence and awareness features of Sametime on the BlackBerry.
It was 10 years ago Monday that RIM launched the first BlackBerry device, and RIM CEO Jim Balsillie took the Lotusphere stage on the anniversary to say that a new era is being ushered in by mobilizing Domino e-mail on the BlackBerry as a standard offering. He noted though that business users are moving beyond e-mail and doing more with the BlackBerry than ever before.
“We’re expecting an exponential growth of mobile business applications, and BlackBerry solutions are reaching deeper into the business with enhanced solutions for Lotus and Sametime,” said Balsillie. “BlackBerry is the leading platform for business mobility worldwide, and for good reason.”
With the growth in wireless mobility, and increasing mobile access to business data coupled with increasingly rich multimedia capabilities, Balsillie said he believes we’re on the precipice of a quantum paradigm shift. He added that, in a time where businesses are under pressure to both save money and increase productivity at the same time – seemingly an impossibility – mobilizing business applications may be the answer.
“In an era of high business pressure, this kind of promise to save money with Lotus Symphony…I’ve never heard a story like this before,” he said.
Mobility is a key part of the IT infrastructure that The Coca-Cola Co. hopes to build. Not just one company, Coca-Cola is actually a network of bottlers and a marketing arm that does US$80 billion in annual sales and runs a $50 billion supply chain in some 200 countries. A single instance of SAP supports 15,000 global users, Business Objects is being adopted for analytics, and Lotus is used for productivity and messaging.
“We view IT as a powerful lever to improve our business,” said Jean-Michel Ares, the company’s CIO. “One of the key opportunities we see going forward is to tighten the integration between the digital workspace and the business back-end foundation.”
Ares said Coca-Cola plans to move out selected business functionalities to the BlackBerry, the internal standard, and other mobile devices. However, if they do so, said Ares, the ease of use must be there and the solution must be intuitive so the focus is on the work, not the tool.
“It must be as easy to use on the BlackBerry as it is on the PC,” said Ares.
SAP and Lotus launch Alloy
In other Lotusphere news, IBM and SAP AG announced the fruits of their Project Atlantic collaboration by launching Alloy, their first joint software product. Alloy connects Lotus Notes and SAP Business Suite, allowing users access to SAP back-end data and applications through their Lotus Notes environment. By being able to access, manipulate and share key business data more easily and in a familiar interface, the companies say users will be able to make quicker and better business decisions.
And finally, LotusLive, formerly Bluehouse, has been launched as the portal for IBM’s cloud-based portfolio of social networking and collaboration tools, including e-mail, collaboration and Web conferencing, and partnerships with Skype, LinkedIn and Salesforce.com.