IBM
“IBM is planning to introduce a set of social software tools Monday that will bring the kind of blogging, idea-sharing and war-story-swapping typically associated with sites like MySpace to the corporate world,” writes Laurie J. Flynn in the International Herald Tribune.

“Called Lotus Connections, the new software, which should be available to companies this year, will let employees set up virtual worlds in which they can meet like-minded colleagues within the company and exchange ideas with them, all in the name of improving productivity.”

“The idea, said the IBM vice president for social software, Jeff Schick, is to ‘unlock the latent expertise in an organization’.” [...]

“Lotus Connections has five components — activities, communities, dogear, profiles and blogs — aimed at helping experts within a company connect and build new relationships based on their individual needs.

The profiles component, for example, lets users search for people by name, expertise or keyword. The program then not only provides contact information and reporting structure details, but also lists blogs, communities, activities and bookmarks associated with the person.

Inside IBM, employees have been using a prototype of the profiles feature for the past few years, and 450,000 profiles of IBM employees are stored there.

IBM Research, the company’s laboratory arm, has long had an interest in social networking, with several projects under way within Second Life, for example, the virtual world that allows people to communicate in a three-dimensional universe.”

- Read full story
- Somewhat longer article in Reuters

UPDATE:
IBM itself seems to have already changed the name of this new tool. The press release calls it Lotus Quickr rather than Lotus Connections.