Lotus Quickr Now Available from IBM
July 10, 2007 Alex Woodie
As expected, Lotus Quickr, the new content sharing program that links blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, and other Web 2.0 sources of information to desktop applications such as Lotus Notes and Microsoft Office, became available at the end of June. With Quickr 8.0 now available, IBM hopes to gain traction in its quest to bring the benefits of Web 2.0-style collaboration to teams of business users.
The World Wide Web has evolved tremendously over the last few years. New approaches to browser technology, as embodied by AJAX, coupled with the popularization of content distribution systems such as wikis, blogs, RSS feeds, and podcasts has made the Web both easier to use and more satisfying to hundreds of millions of consumers. Not surprisingly, big IT vendors like IBM and Microsoft are now trying to capitalize on the Web 2.0 phenomenon with tools designed to bring the Web 2.0 experience to its business users.
Quickr is one of IBM’s key Web 2.0 deliverables to its legions of Lotus faithful. With this product installed on servers and PC desktops, teams of users can theoretically view, edit, share, and distribute their business documents from a Web interface, thereby diminishing much of the complexity and confusion compared to doing it manually, such as via e-mail.
Lotus Quickr includes three components. On the back end resides a server-based content repository, or database, that can either be implemented using Domino or Java technologies. The second component is a series of Web-based services, templates, and content libraries where users go to post and edit information and collaborate with others. These include calendars, project histories, discussion forums, team blogs, wikis, announcement lists, and others.
The final component includes connectors that allow users to interact with the content libraries from applications residing on Windows, Linux, and Macintosh PCs, as opposed to working with these through Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari Web browsers. These connectors enable users to issue commands, such as adding a link to a document maintained on the Quickr server, from a drop-down menu or by right-clicking their mouse. Today there are Quickr connectors available for Notes version 7 and 8, Sametime version 6.5, Office 2003 and 2007, and Windows Explorer for XP and Vista. IBM has committed to delivering later this year Quickr connectors for Outlook, Notes 6.5, its FileNet enterprise content management system, and its DB2 Content Manager.
Taken together, these components allow teams of users to collaborate in a user-friendly environment that ensures the integrity of the documents they’re working on. The biggest benefits may exist for teams who today rely on e-mail to share documents with others. Tracking edits and changes can be extremely difficult to do when more than a few people are involved in an e-mail discussion. But with documents residing in Quickr’s repository, users can concentrate on the content at hand and know that changes are being tracked, rather than manually merging changes from multiple documents, which is a headache-inducing waste of time and technology. Instead of mailing attachments, users can e-mail links.
Users can get started quickly with Quickr’s predefined templates. For example, Quickr includes a project template that tracks the progress that individual users have made against a project. Another template, called the Presentation Place, maintains a repository of presentations, such as PowerPoints and other multimedia files.
While organizations can get the benefits of Web 2.0-style collaboration using several open source and proprietary products now available, many business users would prefer to buy these products from big IT vendors they trust. According to a recent survey by Forrester, 61 percent of 119 CIOs surveyed said they had a “strong desire” to purchase Web 2.0 technologies as a single suite from a “large, incumbent vendor.” (If anything, IBM is a large, incumbent vendor.)
Ken Bisconti, vice president of Lotus messaging and collaboration software at IBM, encourages businesses to look to IBM for new ways to collaborate using Web 2.0 technologies. “Lotus Quickr can be used by teams with varied working styles and different levels of technical expertise,” he says. “It appeals to both workers ready to embrace new Web 2.0 content tools as well as those who are more comfortable working with content within the familiar Microsoft Windows Explorer interface.”
Lotus Quickr version 8.0 (despite the version number, this is the first release of the product) is available for electronic download now in English, and will be available in other languages later this year. Notes customers with current maintenance agreements will receive Quickr at no additional change. Otherwise, licenses for Lotus Quickr cost $70 per user. The software can also be purchased as part of the Complete Enterprise Option (CEO) bundle that also includes Lotus Connections and Lotus Sametime for $195 per user. For more information, see ibm.com/lotus/quickr.
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