Enterprise 2.0: Ambuj Goyal

Ambuj Goyal of IBM gave the next keynote on the changes that they’re seeing in organizations, and how this is informing their Enterprise 2.0 directions. Like any established software vendor would do, he started his history lesson around 12 years ago, where presumably vendors like IBM actually invented Enterprise 2.0 but just didn’t think to call it that. All kidding aside, Lotus Notes was a groundbreaking collaboration tool in its time — long before IBM bought Lotus — and likely helped to drive the demand for the ability to collaborate.

He looks at how changes in technology (lighter weight infrastructure and simpler programming models), economics (new business designs that address the long tail) and community (capturing the wisdom of the masses) combine to form Web 2.0, then dug into IBM’s Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 product offerings.

  • WebSphere Portal as a mashup platform, with all it’s AJAX-y goodness.
  • WebSphere Commerce,which is an online shopping platform; after several minutes of trying to get a video showing WebSphere Commerce working — what I feel to be the ultimate cop-out in a presentation — one of Goyal’s colleagues hopped up on stage and narrated the now-silent video.
  • Web Interface for Content Management. It’s been a few years since I sat down in front of IBM’s Content Manager’s web interface, and I really hope that it’s improved since then, or they’re really stretching it to even mention Web 2.0 and the old CM web interface in the same breath. What ECM really needs is user-generated tagging, which I don’t think that they’re doing yet. Of course, there’s still the outstanding issue of what they’re doing with the FileNet ECM, which I heard was going to become the standard content platform offered by IBM, and likely would have a completely difference web interface.
  • Info 2.0, which appears to include feed management, tagging and mashups within enterprise-strength security and scalability behind it. This is an early view of products that are coming out later this year, including QEDWiki for creating mashups, which I saw at Mashup Camp last year; unfortunately, we were subjected to another canned video after several technical glitches, but still no audio so we had another live voice-over for the video. Why not just show us a demo? I assume that it may also include some repackaged version of Dogear, their internal enterprise social booking tool; this has been an obvious application for productization, although my suggestion of this to all my IBM friends seemed to fall on deaf ears in the past year.
  • Lotus Connections — is this a reinvented version of Notes? Goyal refers it to a brand-new product, but I’m not sure why it is trying to leverage the not-very-chi-chi Lotus brand. Apparently, it includes blogging, profiles, bookmarks (maybe this is were Dogear will show up) and ad hoc collaboration.

Unfortunately, IBM seems to be doing its usual trick of having several products that sit over the same space (usually to provide legacy support of existing installations) without a good distinction between them. I’d love to see a roadmap of how all this fits together: which products are intended to provide an upgrade path for legacy products, and which are intended for new installations.

I completely understand that vendors are given space on the speaking platform in exchange for buying big booths at the trade show, but I really rely on the vendors to provide something of value rather than just a cataloguing of their own products. They gain so much more by demonstrating a deep understanding of the concepts and a vision of the future.

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