IBM trots out new Workplace products

Web conferencing service, Workplace for SMBs introduced

SAN FRANCISCO -- IBM on Tuesday released a series of new products and services in its Workplace productivity software lineup. IBM Workplace blends collaborative tools from Lotus Notes/Domino with WebSphere Portal and Everyplace technologies.

Announcements include an updated version of the IBM WebSphere Portal, a new Express version of Workplace for SMBs, an on-demand Web conferencing service, and a set of role-based Workplace Solutions for vertical industries.

In addition, in Tuesday's rollout Big Blue shifted the branding of the end-user-facing Workplace software platform, removing the Lotus name from the technology.

Workplace creates the front end for technologies facing suppliers, customers, employees, according to Larry Bowden, vice president of IBM Workplace. Each of those users have different roles but they are tapping the same backend information sources through the Workplace platform, he said.

"Collaboration among peers within an organization is moving toward organizational productivity, which shifts toward [collaboration] between organizations," Bowden said.

Version 5.1 of WebSphere Portal includes new business process functionality through an integrated choreographed workflow. In addition, 5.1 delivers a virtual portals capability, which can "virtualize" one instance of WebSphere Portal across the organization. An integrated version of Lotus Workplace Web Content Management is also included in Version 5.1 of the portal.

Retooling Workplace for SMBs, IBM rolled out a new product dubbed Workplace Services Express Version 2.0. The software includes team collaboration, document management, Web forms, task lists, and portal services. The Express version features drag-and-drop portal customization capabilities and team work areas with ready-to-use templates.

The IBM Lotus Web Conferencing Service offers an on-demand service version of the company's existing conferencing software offering. It includes integrated Web and audio functions, record and playback features, and pay-as-you-go or annual subscription-based pricing.

Big Blue also launched IBM Workplace Solutions, a set of 17 industry- and role-based frameworks designed to help customers apply Workplace technology to specific business needs. The offerings aim to provide shortcuts to return on investment. Industries targeted include retail, health care, manufacturing, finance, telecommunications, and government.

Finally, the IBM Workplace for Business Controls and Reporting 2.5 helps companies manage financial and business controls, and the Workplace for Branch Banking is designed to offer role-based work environments for branch managers, tellers, and platform officers to boost productivity and collaboration.