Lotusphere 2009: IBM Attempts The Tightrope Of Open Collaboration Within Large Enterprise

I’m at Lotusphere 2009 today through Thursday.

Main announcements this morning: IBM highlighted partnerships with LinkedIn, TripIt, Skype, and Salesforce.com. On the internal side, the Notes crew demo’d very functional Blackberry integration, voice chat integrated within Notes, and a very nice browser-based UI.

The emphasis was clearly on social computing and collaboration–including the new Lotus Live–IBM’s latest SaaS effort. Quite timely, given my controversial post on Lotus Notes and the Web 2.0 world.

Clearly, IBM recognizes the growth of social collaboration, and they’re trying to funnel that through the front door–yes, you can use Flickr, Skype, etc–but everything is designed to happen within the context of the Notes platform.

From an IT administrative perspective, this enviroment is far easier to manage. But from a user’s perspective, collaboration squishes through walls–trying to make Notes the knowledge management OS feels restrictive.

While these worldviews continue to collide, they’ll never merge. As testimonials this morning from Coca-Cola, HSBC, and NetJets demonstrate, large enterprise prefers a single piece of software for scalability. Despite users continuing complaints about the lack of flexibility.

Buzz Bruggeman of ActiveWords and I discussed this tension between partnerships and single piece of software–he wondered why IBM didn’t partner with Twitter: “If the next phase¬† of the ‘net is about discovery rather than search, than anyone in the enterprise space should harness the power of twitter. Otherwise, they’ll be left behind.”

Don’t expect a lot of live-blogging. For real-time updates, follow the twitter stream. Otherwise, wait for the daily TechCrunchIT recap. (Or ping me on twitter if you want to meet up.)