At Lotusphere in mid-January this year, IBM announced that the next edition of its Connections product would ship later in 2012. IBM Connections 4 hasn’t arrived yet, but since it’s available in Beta on the IBM Lotus Greenhouse test site, and the recent pre-launch educational events for IBM Business Partners, it would seem to be imminent. While I attended Lotusphere and heard what was said then, I’m not an IBM Business Partner so have no inside track into when it is coming. I’m just trying to read the signs and put the pieces together.
If you haven’t come across IBM Connections, it’s a strong player in the social business space. Connections offers a range of capabilities for enterprises to support collaboration between team members, the management of personal / small group projects (called “Activities” in Connections), sharing collections of digital artifacts (such as bookmarks or files), and a way of building rich profiles of the people in your organization to help with identifying common interests and expertise. Connections has done very well in the social business space, with industry analyst firms such as IDC rating it as one of the top products.
Connections was first introduced in June 2007, and has been through at least six major version upgrades since then (and numerous smaller releases). To trace the history in the development of IBM Connections from 1.0 to what is known about 4.0 based on published information, please see the attached diagram (PDF). It shows how the seven major capabilities in the original Connections 1.0 offering have been enhanced over recent years, and where IBM added new capabilities (such as wikis in Version 2.5) or renamed existing capabilities (such as Dogear becoming Bookmarks in Version 2.5). In looking at the diagram, two things stand out to me: first, Connections is an increasingly mature product, with a solid set of core capabilities. Second, the breadth of capabilities offered in a single offering represent a great value proposition to organizations looking to consolidate previously separate technology initiatives.
Are you using IBM Connections at your organization?