Opening Session: Lotus knows why – Lotus knows how

Yes, it’s the first Lotusphere for me, and I am among about 5000 people attending the opening session – but I am sitting in the front rows in the press, analysts and bloggers area (more on how IBM sees, deals and supports us in a later post, btw – this post started with big aspirations but I need to catch my scheduled appointments, no pause till 5 pm for press et al.).

Lotusphere 2010 starts pretty bombastic with music, lights and a general feeling of excitement. Then it’s Lotus general manager Bob Picciano on stage with a first announcement – Lotus helps Haiti and everyone is able to help right here.

And then it’s the special guest, introduced as someone who knows about the future and about success. Coming up is William Shatner, hero of my youth, speaking about how making movies is a collaborative effort and starting off with explaining how many many people are working on a film. Right on spot, he’s talking about Avatar and its 15 years of making from idea to the theatre, finding the funding, support and the people who believe in the idea. James Cameron managed all this (again, not alone, I was seeing footage of the Golden Globes yesterday evening after the welcome party, Cameron’s thank you speech was very long and mentioned a lot of people).

Then it’s regular Lotus time again with Bob explaining how the crisis is a transformative opportunity, and that IBM hasn’t stopped investing in research, people & technology – and in an ecosystem of business partners. LotusLive is the cited example, after its introduction a lot of partners got added. These references show how to do it, advancing the field of intra- and inter-company collaboration (let’s call this Enterprise 2.0 if we need a mental shortcut …) and they’re doing it for reasonable reasons: Beating the competition.

IBM knows its part in beating, dashboard competitors get slashed (Bob Picciano says they miss out on the collaboration side, on open standards, and on delivering on promises) while Lotus had many things right for a long time and it fits into the smarter world campaign – environment, banking, cities, governement, work, yes thanks.

Some more takeaways from Bob Picciano’s talk:

  • The Lotus Knows campaign, raised the profile of Lotus – carrying home that it’s a positive disruption – employing existing technology that provides solid ground, that integrates, and that turns attention to tools like Symfony that provide a lot of capabilities for free (another beat, notice?).
  • The cloud & hybrid environments are argued for with “more nimbleness & agility” – not so much less costs
  • By now, the collaboration agenda has gained executives interest, with a void to be filled in company to company collaboration (Bob: vastly underestimated space)
  • IBM increasingly implements with industry specific teams that employ customized RoI Metrics around collaboration capabilities
  • Everyone says that supporting human collaboration is the biggest lever

Then it’s his successor Alistair Rennie who invites Lotus customers and partners to stage, starting with David Yach of RIM. One takeaway is that Notes is focussing on more than just providing a better mail, it’s about to act on information, it’s about agility and time to market, about how collaboration drives employee engagement – and mobility is helping in all of this. RIM & IBM inked a deal to ease IT admin worries, ease global deployment et al.

Sylvia Steinmann of Zurich Insurance was next, one company that made the decision to stick with Lotus Notes for good reasons. They are moving from 6.5 to 8.5.1 and using Notes as the “first thing people log onto the morning”, and the single access point helped in adoption. Obviously IBM helped a lot in integrating (a complex product, yes – still customers aren’t interested in coping with IBM’s structural complexities, but a solution was found …). She said clearly that Zurich wouldn’t accept a bunch of non-integrated „solutions“ and „out of the box“ fast firing – well, demanding customers are a good thing to have …

More customer stories included

– Panasonic – LotusLive will provide email to 380.000 employees worldwide
– Continental – Lotus helped in integrating the VDO people from Exchange to  Lotus in short time (necessary, this autiomotive systems supplier needs to act on short time in his demanding marketspace)
– General Motors – enterprise mobility matters a lot to them, equipped their salesforce with mobile solutions, Lotus is an enabler to them, they bet on “desktop virtualization”

Then it was demo time with Jeff Schick & Bob Cavanaugh, for all those people who love tech (yes) but who also need an understanding of where it fits into business processes and where the business cases are (yes, again).

A lot of demoing, announcements and plans, like e.g. a Lotus Notes Traveler app for Android, an encrypted email app for iPhone, companies like Gist who will provide a Notes plugin to integrate news(feeds?) from external social networks.

Lotus will provide mobile access to social data, pepper things up with social analytics, ie. recommendations on people, communities, documents and more. New IBM aquisition Cognos technology will allow for drilling down into data.

Also a lot of information about cloud-based service delivery and the underlying rationale, ie. deploying easily, cost-effectively, and learning about what works from the feedback (did anyone say perpetual beta, I think no but this is what it is). Later on a partner panel, blogged live by the Lotusgeek again. And then it’s over and we’re on to press briefings (food for more posts, sure, stand by …)

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