This morning at Lotusphere in Orlando, IBM is announcing the evolution of messaging as a social business tool. During the Lotusphere opening general session, IBM announced and demonstrated Lotus Notes and Domino Social Edition, the next feature release of the messaging and collaboration platform, along with IBM Connections Mail, where social networking meets work for more personal interactions. Both new releases are expected in 2012, with beta releases coming later this quarter. Together, Notes/Domino Social Edition and Connections Mail embrace the notion of a reinvented inbox, incorporating social analytics, contextual delivery, embedded experiences, and progressive disclosure. Fundamentally, we are evolving email and messaging into social mail -- the contextual component that the industry has dreamed of for nearly a decade, in solutions for both our existing messaging customers as well as for those with other email back-ends.

Yes, I know - buzzword bingo there. Sorry. It's cool stuff.

I will talk more about Notes/Domino Social Edition in another post, but this feature release is focused on the blueprint we've been following for the last couple of years -- innovation, integration, convergence. For the messaging user, the Notes client will feature additional social mail capabilities designed to improve consumability and adoption. In both Notes and iNotes, a core new feature is embedded experiences, the ability to use Open Social 2.0 to play application logic inside the document container. This release features additional focus on web and mobile interfaces, recognition of the increasing preference for a choice between client deployment and lightweight user experience. Of course, since it's Notes, all your existing applications continue to run, with no architectural changes required.

IBM Connections Mail was announced conceptually at Lotusphere 2011. The new component of IBM Connections will provide end-users the direct ability to access their Domino or Microsoft Exchange mailbox in the context of Connections. However, this isn't simply a widget or container. Connections Mail embraces all the concepts of social mail -- for example, progressive disclosure to show only the most important information during initial triage, with the flexibility to access additional data as needed. Over time, Connections Mail will leverage social analytics, so that instead of an inbox concept, only relevant email is displayed to users at any given time.

Connections Mail

IBM Connections Mail and Notes/Domino Social Edition build upon the entitlement that IBM provided to all Lotus Notes/Domino customers with the release of version 8.5.3 three months ago, where Notes customers can use IBM Connections Files and Profiles at no additional charge. The tight integration in the Notes 8.5 sidebar to IBM Connections makes the process of unifying email and social a seamless one. The next releases of these products obviously takes that one step further.

As we are demonstrating here at Lotusphere this morning, these solutions are designed to lead the industry away from email overload and whack-a-mole inboxes and towards a more focused, relevant and yes, social communication...regardless of your infrastructure today, IBM will help you get the most value from it.

Over the last few months, I've watched our industry navel gaze a bit as to what email means for the future. Here's our answer -- social mail capabilities are that future, in beta soon and shipping this year.

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