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ORLANDO, Fla.—IBM’s Technology Adoption Plan, which has helped turn many research and early versions of IBM technology into finished products.

At Lotusphere 2007 here, IBM showcased its TAP program, which calls on an internal community of innovators and early adopters to try new and beta versions of IBM technologies and give feedback to shape the development of the technology.

Amy Chow, manager of the TAP program, which is part of IBM’s Office of the CIO, said the basis of the TAP program, which began in January 2006, was “to bring emerging technologies in early. And our big showpiece was [Lotus] Sametime. We brought in Sametime 7.5 using TAP methods.”

Because IBM has so many employees, technology tested by the in-house staff might get a more rigorous workout than the typical public beta process than some companies might go through. For instance, Chow said the TAP process for Lotus Sametime 7.5 included 70,000 people. “And they did four betas in three months based on all the feedback they got.”

IBM released Lotus Sametime 7.5 last year and announced Sametime 7.5.1 at Lotusphere 2007.

Chow said that she expected to see about 40 projects come through the TAP program over the first year. “But we’ve been going for 12 months now and we’re up to 80 projects. We started with 12,000 people involved in the early projects and at the end of December we had 73,000.”

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Lotus Notes 8 is currently in the TAP program and is entering public beta next month, Chow said. A host of other technologies have come through the TAP program and have become either full-fledged IBM products or new features in existing products.

Meanwhile, Chow said IBM is considering expanding its TAP program beyond the company’s corporate boundaries.
“For this year we’re thinking about how to extend TAP to IBM’s clients,” Chow said.

In contrast, Microsoft also has a program known as TAP (Technology Adoption Program) as well, but Microsoft’s program is targeted at Microsoft’s large technology partners who come into the process of testing Microsoft technology after it has gained some maturity and is closer to shipment than the projects in IBM’s program, which for now is only for internal IBM staff.

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