Lotusphere 2007 in Review
Lotusphere in Orlando, Florida is Lotus' annual event to thank their customers and to show off their new features and products for the coming year. I've been presenting at Lotusphere for nine years now and must say that this year was exceptional. With over 7000 customers in attendance and a keynote speech by Neil Armstrong, you could feel the excitement in the air (besides the warm Florida breezes).
Lotus is a collaboration software company most noted for its Domino and Lotus Notes brands. For us grey beards you may even remember when Lotus 1-2-3 was the slickest spreadsheet around. The engineers at Lotus have always been admired for their first to market innovations and this year kept true to their reputation.
First, you didn't even have to be in Orlando to attend Lotusphere. You could log into Second Life and navigate your Avatar through a virtual Lotusphere (pretty cool). They also have taken instant messaging to the next level with Sametime 7.5 that features the integration of audio, video, web conferencing, program sharing, and a multi-protocol gateway that allows you to communicate with other vendor's messaging systems by AOL, Google, and Yahoo! - something I've always wanted to do.
In addition, Notes users will be able to do activity-based computing with "Activities," a Lotus technology that shares and organizes e-mail, instant messages, documents and other items related to a particular activity or project into one logical unit. I like this feature because it unshackles you from using email as the primary work tool for inbox driven task management.
Two new products were announced, namely Lotus Connections and Quickr. Connections will feature five Web 2.0 technologies designed to allow users to collaborate on activities, communities, bookmarks, profiles and blogs. Quickr is a collaborative content-sharing program which can be perceived as the next generation of Quickplace.
My main goal at Lotusphere was to present OmniFind and its enterprise search capabilities but to also learn about what's new from a search perspective within Lotus. What I learned, which also confirmed what I blogged about earlier, is the search for people. Collaboration software is all about people and their interaction with each other through technology. And search is a key component of that technology.
I witnessed a very cool people search interface in the innovation lab that you had to see to appreciate. Based off of people collaboration in Activities it presented the weighted interaction and contributions of people in an easy to understand graph. People's faces were used as nodes in the graph and their connections as emphasized lines depending on how much they interacted. The people (nodes) were also placed inside boxes representing a particular organization that they belonged which could be adjusted by a slide rule (department, division, country...granularity). What was really cool was you could grab a time line thumbnail and as you moved it see the evolution of the interactions between the different members of the activity. Again, you had to see it to believe it.
Conference Grade: A+