At Lotusphere in Orlando, IBM announced LotusLive will become SmartCloud for Social Business, featuring the latest enhancements to the IBM Connections social business platform as they are released to the market, in addition to hosted email, calendaring, and document collaboration. The new IBM Docs web-based collaborative editors for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations will also be available through SmartCloud for Social Business once it is released in the second half of the year.
IBM has been pushing social business as its new direction for collaborative computing for more than a year and has clearly concluded that Lotus is too firmly associated with the previous generation to carry that message. In 2011, IBM removed the Lotus name from its enterprise social networking platform, which was known as Lotus Connections before it became IBM Connections.
Mike Rhodin, the senior vice president of the IBM Software Solutions Group, said the rebranding of LotusLive also reflected IBM's desire to have a single brand--SmartCloud-- over all its software as a service and cloud infrastructure offerings. Cloud computing is a growing business for IBM and one of the ways it is reaching smaller customers.
[ For more on the social project management tools available in LotusLive, read LotusLive Gets Social Project Management Tools.]
One enthusiastic LotusLive user is Raymond Huff, president of HJB Convenience Corporation, which operates office building convenience stores, including its own Russell's Convenience stores and other stores operated by licensees. HJB is a small but geographically distributed business, with 24 stores throughout Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Hawaii. In an interview, Huff said the social media activity stream he uses through LotusLive has proved particularly useful for improving communication between marketing, operations, architects, and consultants when he is planning to open or remodel a store.
Previously, that process was characterized by lots of little miscommunications that would often cause Huff to have to jump on a plane to address a crisis. "The first trip is a planned trip, and then every trip after that is an emergency," Huff said. As a result, he would wind up playing a premium for last-minute airfare.
Now that he is able to establish a social media workspace for each project, that happens a lot less often, Huff said. "Over the past year, we saved about $30,000 in travel," he said. Although the LotusLive subscription isn't free, he considers the savings "pure return on investment" because the cost took the place of other software or services he was using or considering at the same time.
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