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Posts Tagged ‘Lotus Notes’

Lotus redux: a transformation in process

February 3, 2011 1 comment

I have attended Lotusphere for many years so it is very interesting to watch the transition. When Lotus Notes was first introduced in the late 1980s, it was a seminal moment in the evolution of collaborative computing. During those first few years, Lotus was able to establish a rich ecosystem of partners and really define the market for collaborative computing — before the general market even had time to think about the necessity for such a platform.  But a lot has changed.  Fast forward to 2011.  Today the ideas of collaboration platforms is now the norm. Individuals, virtual teams, and big corporations depend on collaboration platforms to get business done. For many years it was clear that Microsoft with its office franchise and SharePoint had captured the market. However, with the advent of cloud computing and Google’s push into Google Apps that the market dynamics were changing. Now, add social networking on top of that with services like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and the world gets a lot more interesting.

So, what does this have to do with Lotus? Actually a lot.  Companies that I have been talking to are frantically looking for ways to combine the spontaneity of social networking platforms with structured collaboration with customers, partners, and prospects. They are looking for new ways to expand their business flexibility and opportunities. This is where Lotus has an interesting opportunity. Lotus has traditionally sold Notes and Domino to the high end of the Mid-market and the enterprise market primarily as a communications platform — i.e. electronic mail.  That is what the typical user sees. But under that interface is complex applications that capture a lot of company intellectual property.  Over time, IBM has added a lot of sophisticated offerings for collaboration such as Quickr and Connections. Now add LotusLive, IBM’s cloud collaboration platform into the mix and things get interesting.  In addition to this new generation platform that brings together the traditional Notes environment with more dynamic collaboration and cloud computing, IBM is enabling analytics on the platform with tools from Cognos.

At the same time, IBM is being realistic this time around. It knows that it cannot displace Microsoft Sharepoint so it is enabling customers to make Sharepoint a component in an IBM driven collaboration environment. Likewise, it is allowing integration with various wireless smartphone environments as well.

But if I were to put a bet on one product that I think will have the greatest potential to bring IBM into the mainstream of social networking — or more specifically social business is LotusLive.  LotusLive in combination with the underlying sophistication of the Notes and Domino platforms, productivity solutions (Symphony), and partnerships and linkages with third party SaaS platforms will drive IBM’s place in the collaboration market.

IBM clearly has challenges getting existing customers comfortable with change and helping them to move their valuable assets to the new world.  But the components are in place. There are also important innovations coming out of the labs that will propel the environment forward.  IBM will have to gather a lot more partners and more adoption from customers who aren’t currently customers. But the opportunity is waiting.

Lotus: the next generation

January 21, 2008 Leave a comment

So, here I am at Lotusphere. Whoever invested Disneyworld should be sent for many years of therapy. It is not a happy place. But I digress. Lotus is at a interesting transition in its history. I have a warm feeling for Lotus. I was first introduced to Lotus Notes in 1988 quite by accident. My daughter was in day care with Irene Greif’s son. She told me about a cool new platform that Lotus was working on and urged me to come see it. It had interesting potential but it was very early. The rest is history. The first couple of generations of Lotus Notes was big, complicated, and server centric. Now the focus has changed — Lotus is about dynamic collaboration across corporate boundaries for a new generation of customers.

The theme for the meeting was “emergence” — it is a definitely better theme than innovation which is slightly over used these days (that was a joke…right). What does emergence mean? Mike Rhodin, GM of Lotus expanded it as providing you with the ability to respond by using your information to your advantage. I think it might have a second meaning: could this be the emergence of Lotus — finally as a ubiquitous platform that matters? It is not a simple question to answer but here is my take.

Lotus continuing its dramatic transformation to a true collaborate ecosystem. Much of the transition is taking place behind the scenes. I think there are four points of emergence that are important:

1. Lotus begins to move into Software as a Service (SaaS) with a hybrid model. This model will include a packaged appliance as well as SaaS offerings such as Bluehouse and the previously announced Symphony office software. I expect that IBM will offer combinations of some SaaS combined with some on premise software.

2. A new platform called Bluehouse goes into beta with an interesting focus on next generation collaboration with a people centric view of the world. I have had three demos of Bluehouse so far and plan to participate in the forthcoming beta. It is early to be sure. But the idea of creating a platform that allows virtual organizations and teams to collaborate is intriguing. I think there is more here than meets the eye.

3. An ambitious acquisition strategy to help IBM move beyond its legacy platforms. IBM had made some interesting acquisitions that support a collaboration strategy including Unyte for web conferencing and Net Integration Technologies for packaging Lotus into an appliance for the mid market.

4. A different model of packaging and partnering. Lotus is leveraging emerging standard interfaces and the new collaborative platforms to rethink packaging and partnering within both the mid market and the enterprise. This model will be based on rethinking the economics of creating customer and partner ecosystems. The Symphony product suite, based on open office, provides a free platform for ISVs to integrate office capabilities into their environment. This could have dramatic implications for ISVs who sell into the mid-market where margins and prices are low.

IBM has the opportunity to leverage its enterprise focused assets as its moves down and across customer virtual ecosystems. How about security offerings or management software modularized as a set of business services that can be added to a basic application as needs mature. The potential for IBM to leverage everything from its extensive work in service oriented architectures to its knowledge based on working with customers on innovation and people management are quite fascinating. It is indeed early but I think the signs of something significant is emerging here. IBM would be wise to follow its instincts and move boldly into this new generation and really emerge.