"I think Connections is what they're doing a lot more work on now. I don't think you're going to see a huge increase in adoption of Lotus Notes. I think people are moving towards more agile, web-based, lighter-weight collaboration tools," Lepofsky says. "It's not just who you put in the 'to' field, it's asking a question to the entire marketing team at once and being able to get feedback and get an answer. That's the big change."
For IBM, this change represents an opportunity at a fresh start in a messaging market in which their previous products have fallen behind. At Connect, the company is announcing its new line of programs and services aimed at developing more intensive social business skills within its customers and business partners, ranging from online courses and live support services to one-on-one consultancy with the company's social business experts. It's a skill set that IBM is pushing at San Jose State University, where the company has sent mentors to help the school's already social-savvy students direct their experience toward the business world.
Such programs will prepare college students on the cusp of the competitive job market for the new frontier of enterprise communications, which Lepofsky believes may be already upon us.
"As we become a more diverse workforce, geographically, age-wise, etc., I think the tools also have to enable collaboration to be much more open," Lepofsky says. "So I think we're so accustomed to these tools in our personal lives -- Twitter and Facebook and Google+ and LinkedIn. The style in which we work with our family and friends and sports teams, and just the way we communicate with people these days, is different than it was just a few years ago. So that naturally has to evolve in the way you work with your colleagues."
This trend has grown so rapidly, according to Carter, that many people may soon begin replacing their email practices with more social forms of finding and sharing information.
"The way that businesses work is changing. I think that people are getting so much mail but it's very passive, and I think that people use email in the wrong way because they don't have other tools," Carter says. "If I want to ask somebody a quick question, I could do that in a quick message or a microblog, but because I don't have that tool available for me I send them an email and they send me an email and vice versa. Or you get caught in email hell where you are copying the world on something because you want them to know, but then every response copies everybody again, and you get to the point where you think email is ineffective."
Lotus Notes, for many reasons, is one email client that has been deemed ineffective by its users and competitors alike. In the days leading up to last year's Lotusphere conference, Microsoft went on the offensive, claiming that internal research found Lotus Notes' share in the market of businesses with 500 or more computers stood at 7 percent, compared to Exchange's 73 percent. Microsoft's blog post sent a clear message with its title "Don't be the last company on Notes," and appeared to be an attempt at wiping Notes out of the enterprise email market altogether.
However, what Microsoft's attack did not address was Lotusphere's first foray into the social business field last year. Now, IBM appears to be heading full-steam into a burgeoning social business market that Forrester Research predicts will grow 61 percent through 2016 to reach $6.4 billion, up from $600 million in 2011.