Workplace Services Express – Are we ready for role-based workspaces?

A major announcement at this week’s Lotusphere conference is IBM’s Workplace Services Express – known as WSE for short.  WSE integrates capabilities such as document management, team workspaces and instant messaging/presence awareness into a single collaboration platform.  It is targeted primarily at small and medium-sized businesses and positioned directly against Microsoft’s Windows Sharepoint Services.  There is at least one important difference in the approach IBM is taking however – and that is that WSE is designed to create workspaces that are based on roles although it supports ad-hoc use as well. 

Customizing team collaboration tools to specific employee roles will require organizations and partners to analyze these roles in some detail.  This is something, that in my experience, small and medium-sized organizations have rarely done.  These organizations are quite likely to turn to IBM business partners for help.  IBM (who has increasingly been taking a vertical approach to the market) has anticipated this need, and has created a set of programs called PartnerWorld Industry Networks.  These offerings are designed to help disseminate knowledge to partners about specific industries, such as finance, healthcare, or telecommunications.  They also gather together in one place information about partners and third party applications that address these industries to make the process for developing complete solutions.

The success of the role-based approach to collaboration that IBM is taking with their products will depend more on business and process knowledge than technical implementation skills, like integration and application development.  Programs like the Industry Networks will increase the likelihood that customers will realize business value from platforms like Workplace Services Express.

One Comment

  1. Posted January 27, 2005 at 12:52 PM | Permalink

    It would be nice to know if you think that the product looks useable. As you know, I was very disappointed with SharePoint in this regard.

  2. David Via
    Posted January 28, 2005 at 7:30 AM | Permalink

    I think it does look usable, but you might not want to put too much stock in my opinion. Personally, I find SharePoint perfectly usable as well.

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