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Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

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.

Is there a Twitter sneak attack in our future?

November 4, 2009 Leave a comment

Last year I wrote a post about what I called the Google Sneak attack. If you don’t feel like reading that post, I’ll make it simple for you. Google comes to market as a benign helpful little search engine that threatened no one. Fast forward a decade and Google now pulls in more ad revenue than most of the television networks combined. It has attacked Microsoft’s office franchise, is playing a key role in the cloud via Platform as a Service (Google AppEngine), not to mention the importance of its entry into the book business and who knows what else.  But let’s turn our attention to Twitter.  I’ve been using Twitter since 2007. For the first several months I couldn’t quite figure out what this was all about. It was confusing and intriguing at the same time.  In fact, my first blog about Twitter suggested that the Emperor has no clothes.

So fast forward to the end of 2009 and several very interesting things are happening:

1. Twitter is becoming as much a part of the cultural and technical fabric as Google did just a few years ago

2. A partner ecosystem has grown up around Twitter. A post from February by Matt Ingram of Gigaom echos this point.

3. The number of individuals, large corporations, and small businesses are using Twitter as everything from the neighborhood water cooler to a sales channel.

What does mean? Despite detractors who wonder what you can possibly accomplish in 140 characters, it is becoming clear that this company without a published business plan does have a plan to dominate.  It is, in fact, the same strategy that Google had. Which company would have been threatened by a small search company? And who could be threatened from a strange little company called Twitter that asked people to say it all in 140 characters? Today Twitter claims to have 18 Million users about 4% of adult internet users.  I suspect that we will begin to see a slow but well orchestrated roll out of services that leverage the Twitter platform. I suspect that we will see a combination of advertising plus commercial software aimed at helping companies reach new customers in new channels.

I am confident that within the next two years this small, profitless, patient company will roll out a plan targeting social networking world dominance. It will be fun to watch.

Confessions of a Twitter User

September 25, 2008 Leave a comment

Back in January of this year I signed up for a Twitter account. I have to admit I was skeptical. Why does anyone need to know what I am doing right now? I wrote a blog about how silly I thought it was. Then after playing around with Twitter for about five months I wrote another blog about how it had the potential for becoming a platform for innovation. So, clearly, I had changed my mind.  I began to see that something here was more interesting than what I had assumed.

Well, now a few months later I would like to report that I have been getting deeper and deeper into my Twitter research and I have some new conclusions that I would like to share.  Here are the five conclusions I have come to about why Twitter is important:

Number One. The water cooler effect. As a technology industry analyst I really enjoy connecting with other analysts. It is especially helpful when a bunch of us are at an industry analyst meeting and we can exchange impressions in real time about what speakers are really saying. When colleagues are at a meeting I am not attending, I get a vicarious real time impression about the meeting without being there in person! It is amazing what you learn from only 140 characters. I have found that the companies we analyst are twittering about eagerly follow what we say about them and their competitors.

Number Two. Connecting to the political world.  During this election season, I have connected to many of the candidates, pundants, and journalists Twitter links. They often will provide links to articles and commentary that I never would have thought to look at – and I probably would never have known that they existed. I also took the opportunity to send direct messages to some candidates. I’m sure they never read what I said but it made me feel better. (Some candidates removed the ability to send a direct message after a while). I have noticed that a number of cable news reporters are now using Twitter to connect to people about specific issues they researching.  It can definitely be a good reality check for these guys.

Number Three. Connecting to people in the computer industry. I have connected with executives and technologists that I haven’t been in touch with in a while. Sometimes, I have sent messages to set up a new meeting just based on seeing them make a statement about something happening in their company.  It isn’t a substitute for other communications methods — traditional email, etc. but it is handy.

Number Four. The reach of the platform. Twitter, like other social networking platforms has created a range of related services — some that add better interfaces and there are lots. Here is a link to Todd Ogasawara’s   blog that lists lots of them.

Number Five. Twitter will need a revenue based model at some point. Where’s the business model? This is something I haven’t figured out yet. How will Twitter make money?  Are they planning what I call a Google Sneak Attack? Is there a plan to create an advertising model or new SaaS software model built on the base platform?

Clearly Twitter has momentum and some buzz right now.  Will it last? I think some of that depends on how well the company does at working on scalability,  partnerships, and figuring out a business model. Semantic search is something they desperately need. I could envision Twitter evolving to create specific applications for companies that want to set up real time feedback with customers and partners. I’ll keep working with Twitter — I enjoy the interaction (when I have time).

Can Twitter Trigger Innovation?

May 12, 2008 7 comments

A few months ago I wrote a blog entry criticizing Twitter . I was not sure I got the relevance of this micro-blogging site. So, I decided that it made sense to spend time getting deeply involved in a Twitter community to test it and see if my opinion would change.

Here are my thoughts now. First, I am finding myself intrigued by Twitter. It is a quirky environment. I see some comments like “I am drinking my first cup of coffee of the day” or “My airplane is delayed.” I think that I know too much about some people’s daily habits and not enough about others. I also get breaking news on twitter and find some fascinating links from political pundits. I am finding that I get some unique insights into people I know and people I don’t. Some entries are simply entertaining and make me laugh. My colleague, Robin Bloor, for example, has been posting haikus that are wonderful. I look forward to them. I exchange comments on topics with other analysts that I have gotten to know over the years. I am also reconnecting with people I haven’t talked to in years.

I was talking to John Simonds last week and he thinks that some bloggers are using Twitter in place of their regular blogs. It might be the perfect solution for bloggers with short attention spans!

So, I think I have changed my mind to a certain extent. Twitter does fill a role in a world where our time is sliced thinner and thinner and where we don’t always have the time to pick up the phone and call. It provides a way to create micro-communities that have intriguing possibilities.

I think this is just the beginning of what we will see in the next five years. It reminds me somewhat of the early commercial Internet days. It was an intriguing platform that has potential but needed to evolve. How will Twitter and other similar sites evolve? I think that we will see the refinement of specialized closed groups focused on either topics or issues. I could see, for example, a company setting up a Twitter-like capability to allow a team of scientists or researchers to ping each other with quick ideas. This is different than traditional communications methods used by these groups. In formal conversations or papers these participants feel compelled to write long and complicated explanations of ideas and concepts. If you are limited to a hundred or so characters you are forced to get the core of your idea out very, very quickly.

Like email in an older generation, Twittering could have the effect of quickening the pace of communication — but in a radically different way. Sometimes the most important innovation comes from a single phrase or idea that expands into a universe.

Twitter: Does the emperor have no clothes?

January 5, 2008 3 comments

I decided the other day that I would be cool and sign up for a Twitter account. OK, so I did it. I even added a few entries and looked at some entries of people I know. So, here is my question: why? Maybe I am too old to get this. In essence, Twitter is instant messaging that adds some multi-media splash. It is also a sort of micro-blogging tool. But I wanted to make sure that I was being fair. So, I did some checking to see how people are using this new tool. Here is where I think that Twitter does work. You are a very social person who creates a network of a few dozen of your close friends. One of the best examples of an interesting Twitter network is James Governer’s blog site that lives up to the hype by creating a broad network of chatters. Michael Krigsman in his blog has some interesting observations on Twitter.

I will continue to play around with Twitter and see how it evolves over time. Here is my take. It is an interesting idea that might be the germ of something for the future. I am not really sure where this Twitter social computing idea will go. Do you really want to know that I ate a pizza 2 minutes ago and regret that I ate the whole thing? Do I care that your electricity went out last night and you had to sit in the dark for an hour? Maybe I do care if I am working on a project with a highly distributed team and want to communicate in real time without picking up the phone or rushing to the computer.

Maybe we just don’t know yet. Remember when the first personal computers were entering the market in the late 1970s no one knew what in the world you would use one for? Those discussions seen quite silly now. But in those days there were no word processors or spreadsheets and no email for those devices. There was simply a notion that there is something that could evolve into something pretty important. Do I think that Twitter is in the same category? Probably not. I do think there is something there about real time, unified communication and real time access that has potential — but not right now and not in this form.