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10/6/2010
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Michele Warren
Michele Warren
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IBM Enhances LotusLive Collaboration Suite

IBM has beefed up its cloud-based collaboration offering, LotusLive, with new social networking and e-mail capabilities, and introduced new "value pricing" options that may make the suite more appealing to small businesses with budget constraints. Also, the vendor unveiled two new integrations with third-party providers.

IBM has beefed up its cloud-based collaboration offering, LotusLive, with new social networking and e-mail capabilities, and introduced new "value pricing" options that may make the suite more appealing to small businesses with budget constraints. Also, the vendor unveiled two new integrations with third-party providers.Last week, I shared some insights from the SMB Group, whose latest report on collaboration suites cited Google, HyperOffice, IBM, Microsoft, and Salesforce as some of the noteworthy players in this arena. Now IBM is hoping to up the ante.

The latest additions to IBM's collaboration suite include LotusLive Notes and Communities. The former, which starts at $5 per user, per month, gives users e-mail, shared calendar, instant messaging, and contacts services. The latter gives users enhanced social networking capabilities, allowing them to share files and bookmarks, track new projects, tag information, and host discussion forums across multiple companies. In addition, IBM is now offering an end-to-end collaboration package, which includes e-mail, calendaring, instant messaging, webconferencing, file sharing, and social networking services, for $10 per user, per month.

Through a partnership with Tungle, IBM has integrated online scheduling and calendaring with LotusLive, and the integration of cloud-based document, data, task, and report sharing comes courtesy of Bricsys.

Already, IBM teams up with third-party vendors to extend the capabilities of its collaboration suite. Silanis Technology, a Montreal-based developer of e-signature technology, resells LotusLive bundled with its own product. For the most part, Silanis customers are companies in the financial services, government, and insurance markets that are looking for an e-signing solution.

"When they see what they can do with LotusLive -- conduct live meetings, answer customers' questions, store and share files -- they appreciate the value of collaboration software," says Mary Ellen Power, vice president of marketing at Silanis. Power says e-signing and collaboration are a perfect fit. "Once people are in a collaboration environment, they want to move the deal forward then and there," she adds. "With e-signing, they can make a purchase, fill out a mortgage application, sign an agreement."

For Silanis' SMB customers, the LotusLive/e-signing solution has taken business to new heights, Power says. "With an affordable monthly subscription, they get an 'e-closing room' where they can execute their transactions," she says, adding that they can do business anytime, anywhere. "They can compete nationally now."

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