"Lotus Connections has five components — activities, communities, dogear (a bookmarking system), profiles and blogs — aimed at helping experts within a company connect and build new relationships based on their individual needs."
The NY Times article notes that IBM has long been interested in social networking, for example it has "several projects under way within Second Life".
Marc Canter thinks IBM's entrance into social networking software validates his own product, PeopleAggregator. IBM's corporate competitor, Microsoft, is a bit more defensive. The Redmond company has issued a press release, with the title 'Microsoft Makes It Easier for Organizations to Transition to Its Unified Communications and Collaboration Platform'. The press release goes on to helpfully (and wordily) suggest how existing IBM customers might migrate over to Microsoft:
"Today, Microsoft announced new tools that will help IBM Lotus Notes/Domino customers take advantage of the new unified communication and collaboration innovations that are being delivered as part of the recently released Microsoft® Exchange Server 2007, the 2007 Microsoft Office system and Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server 2007 technologies. These resources include a new suite of tools for managing transitions of IBM’s directory, messaging and application solutions, as well as new templates for SharePoint Products and Technologies, which make it even easier for IT professionals to roll out customized applications for common business scenarios. Together these tools are making it easier for IBM customers to manage transitions to and start experiencing the benefits of Microsoft’s modern, integrated platform, which increases organizational productivity, streamlines business processes, and reduces IT cost and complexity."
That's very kind of Microsoft to assist customers to move off IBM's products and onto its own.
This news probably means little to existing social networks, like MySpace, Facebook and even business-focused LinkedIn. Enterprise social networking, as Microsoft hinted at in its non-too-subtle press release, is more about collaboration and communication. So if anything, this has more to do with Web Office (and in particular Knowledge Management) than social networking.