Is it a New Lotus?

A new Lotus has begun to emerge…

A Lotus that:

  • is assured of its place in the market, ready to compete head on with all the social/collaboration/appdev vendors, not just Microsoft
  • is confident of its future, within the market, within IBM and under the new leadership of Alistair Rennie
  • embraces and holds dear the rich history of Notes and Domino, and is definitive about its place in the brave new world of integrated always-on real-time social collaboration
  • realises that Google Wave is a game-changer, and is ready to step up and face it head-on
  • is becoming a greater influence on IBM as a whole, both through the industry focus on social collaboration in 2010 and beyond, and because of the continued stature of the previous 5 Lotus GMs
  • continues to learn the significance of social media (blogs, Twitter and much more)
  • fully recognises the importance of the Lotus community and the special (perhaps unique) relationship that Lotus software has with its user and partner base
  • that now has one defined vision for all its products to work towards over the next few years – none of the other vendors has anything close right now.

Stuart refines some of his #ls10 impressions into a list – I have like 93% agreement with it, but would add a seen (& heard) “IBM is commited to open standards (at least when it’s useful)”.

Perhaps trading it in against the “rich history” makes sense? After all this is not a thing one should rest upon, sometimes it can be limiting … better learn from it, as to not be bound to repeat it …

Posted via web from stirring the frogpond

Lotusphere 2010: Even more analyst briefings (days 2 & 3)

More write-ups and notes pile up – so I will give you an roundup of my day 2 and 3 appointments:

Q&A with Uffe Sorensen, Lotus Messaging & Collaboration Director, CEEMEA

We talked about the different selling approaches it needs – whether you’re in an emerging (BRIC etc.) market or if you’re in western economies. Most interesting that even when some common traits exist, emerging economies are leapfrogging the western hemisphere. Employing new and fresh technologies is obviously a lot easier if you don’t have a legacy heritage to protect and defend (plus as the price for data transmission is dropping all over the world, SaaS offerings are becoming more attractive – even when on-premise models have their place for some time. I guess that Lotus is well positioned – given the hybrid model of on-site and cloud-based that they seem to allow).

On the topic of social software in the enterprise adoptions we’ve shortly tackled the importance and role of different local cultures – but Uffe sees that new modern generations, that are accustomed to the new tools and ask for them are a fact all over the world. Also he thinks that the common meme of “the US is more tech friendly than Europe” is just a myth.

More topics included:

– Crowdsourcing and innovating – IBM does employ and leverage the BRIC creativity, eg. there are labs in Hong Kong, Johannesburg etc.
– Uffe believes in employee surveys, retention numbers, etc. as qualitative measuring of social software ROI – like that, numbers are easy.
– we have a lot of use cases and real pain points we can improve with social software in the enterprise – if we look close enough …
– he was quite critical of the name “Enterprise 2.0” – something I don’t buy in, for me it’s more than marketing hype, it’s a useful mental shortcut, much like the Collaboration Agenda IBM is putting forth themselves
– I liked his take on industry focus and knowledge about specific processes – the „how can I improve how a company does this and that“ is a very good starting point for discussion and helps “getting it real”.

Q&A with Doug Heintzman, Director Lotus Strategy & Collaboration

We were talking about the market positioning of Lotus in contrast to Microsoft Sharepoint – something I won’t comment on now, would I? Small wonder that he’s seeing significant deficiencies of MOSS, and a lack of understanding and commitment to the social web in the enterprise.

Small wonder too that he sees Lotus as a system of systems much better positioned, offering customers the flexibility and scalability they need (and that allow for the tailoring of best of breed functionality – think Open Source integration et al.).

Well, there were some more meetings and encounters – but this will have to do for now, I want to visit the labs one more time. And I sure don’t want to be late for tonight’s treat, meeting with old and new friends (did I say that it’s great to put some real people behind all those twitter acquaintances?) and enjoying the rollercoaster rides.

Lotusphere 2010: Labs of all kind

LotusLive Labs and the initial offerings made me go pay a visit to the Labs people at Lotusphere. Here’s a picture to give you an impression of the athmosphere in the Lab rooms:

And they had answers too. And yes, the research people are demoing all sorts of cool stuff, that you’re not supposed to photograph, albeit I’ve understood that these innovations are tested out by IBM employees already inhouse. Anyway – I had to step outside of the room to take that picture …

Got a demo of Project Concord, something that Ed Brill comments on like this:

this project demonstrates some very cool collaborative document editing, contextual commenting, smart tables, and task and attention management. It is designed to work with installed editors (e.g. Symphony), browser users, and even mobile users

[…] LotusLive Labs is intended to be an incubator for new cloud-based capabilities, and Project Concord is just one of those.

I’ve also checked out some ideas of social data visualization, part of the IBM ideas and plans around Social Analytics – plus the real-time crowdsourcing of presentation building with Shared Presentation.

Lotussphere 2010: Curing information overload

Now, I’ve written something like “I really need to clone myself – there are way too many good sessions at Lotusphere 2010.” Good to have some bloggers on site with their continuing live-coverage and analysis, huh?

So let’s collect some of the relevant posts of the first two days – avoiding the pretty obvious ones for now (Ed Brill, Luis Suarez and his Twitter conferencing persona, Luis Benitez, Alan Lepofsky, the Lotusphere blog itself and it’s liveblogging incarnation, PlanetLotus – an aggregator of many Lotus related blogs, ReadWriteWeb Enterprise‘s Alex Williams, and more). Did I promise a cure for information overload? Nah, that catchy title only got chosen to attract you, there’s no such thing

OK then, here we go, check out

Curious Mitch, liveblogging eg. on LotusLive and SaaS things
LotusGeek, with extensive coverage
Chris Miller does Notes
[and more, this list will probably grow over time]

Und natürlich gibt es auch einige viele deutsche deutschsprachige Lotusphere posts:

– zum einen von Stefan, der wie ich nicht untätig ist (Collaboration in the cloud, Lotusphere Bericht u.a. zu Project Concord und den Web Clipping Services),
– von Peter Schütt (Lotusphere 2010 Opening Keynote: Lotus Knows – die Collaboration Agenda der Zukunft),
– dem Tech-Team von TwentyOne
– und natürlich von Volker Weber (u.a. die gesammelten Heise et al. Artikel),

Lotusphere 2010: More Analyst Briefings

I really need to clone myself – there are way too many good sessions at Lotusphere 2010. And it doesn’t help that I’ve got an tight appointment schedule set up, ie. analyst meetings and briefings on everything from LotusLive, UCC to IBM Lotus Strategy.

But it’s fine with me, there’s a lot of takeaways, some of Day 1 Analyst Briefings follow:

Q&A with Dwight Morse, Lotus Notes Channel Marketing Lead

The announced Vulcan Project – some kind of next gen Lotus Notes in the cloud – started a long time ago in the IBM labs. It’s bringing together a lot of ideas (also from some recent acquisitions).

What do I think? I like the idea of an advanced knowledge worker’s workspace, integrating IM with social web tools, putting some effort into being more presence- and task-aware, the tagging of documents, the sharing of bookmarks in communities, the searching and connecting with people and communities. Add to this the open APIs …

The two things I am still doubtful with are this focus on documents as the main unit and object of interest. I sense an inclination to a document-centric approach. But we agree it’s content after all, and we should rethink our understanding of what we deal with?

The other thing is the Social Analytics stuff – while I find it interesting and able I know that it will raise a lot of concerns with people employees, probably slowing down acceptance. This grief may stem from my european-ness, but I can’t help it. Probably needs a staged approach, a lot of explaining and show-and-tell, and some smart tweaking options (is opt-in a valid option or does it only work when we’re allowed to sift through all data?).

OK, it’s a vision for the future, a roadmap – and they understand that information is the basic unit – be it mail, documents, or whatever.

Next thing we were speaking about was the Collaboration Agenda – it was explained to me as a solution selling naming, ie. helping the problems of explaining and selling a complex thing like Notes in an “elevator speech”. Elevators will see pitches like these:

Ya know, everyone needs to collaborate, and let me ask you directly: „What is your need? What are the pain points you see in your organization? What are the things you need to do and can’t do today?“


Let me introduce you to the solutions IBM and Lotus can offer you … (yes, I will cater for the jobs of tailoring and selecting from our portfolio …)”

Four industries are targeted, overall vertical markets where business partners shall provide solutions to discrete needs (CRM & sales, innovation management, etc.). Here Lotus Foundations will not be pushed as a product, but it’s a part of the tool box solutions get chosen from.

Q&A with Brendan Crotty, Program Director for LotusLive

LotusLive Labs is conceived as a way to expose new innovations coming from IBM Labs. Cool things included like some kind of “automatic video transcribing” so that a recorded presentation can be accessed at individual segments.

Most interesting is that IBM is expecting to learn a lot from the data and the feedback, ie. speeding up development of this “perpetual beta”. Did I say beta? Don’t be afraid, Labs is easy on the admin side, ie. it’s easy to decide who’s going to get access, a lot of business controls etc.

From a partner and customer perspective (think of Salesforce etc.) it was said that it’s going to be easy to integrate with LotusLive, because of adherence to open standards and data exchange models (RESTful et al. …). We’ll see if that’s pulling through, I must say that open standards are a hot meme among the IBM executives I’ve been talking to, next to the notion of “we will cater to what our customers need and want”. No, I am not going to write about the iPhone …

Q&A with John Del Pizzo – Sametime / UCC

Noted down: In the past they used IBM-specific standards, now it’s SIP (hmm, XMPP too I guess) – overall a bet on open standards, that allows for more connectivity (with competing providers too, yes). Thus Sametime can act as a client for Radvision, Tandberg, etc. as an endpoint.

John stressed that providing UCC at the desktop drives adoption, but needs simplicity. Well, simplicity, usability and ease of use drive adoption, then adoption drives ROI. Nothing to argue with that.

Interesting business cases again, like some customers wanting to use UCC for service (and customer collaboration) uses.

On the question of how this compares and competes with Microsoft Communication Server he argued along the lines of simplicity and usability (see up there …), scalability, openness, standards, interoperability, ability to integrate Sametime where it’s needed (hmmm, HTML5 or AJAX-ey integration?).

Q&A with Alistair Rennie, Lotus General Manager

Rennie summed up the announcements – then answered questions, covering cloud based collaboration, the Panasonic deal, mobile collaboration etc. Some notes:

– Social Analytics is getting customers excited, and they’ve got more  (research based) ideas coming, eg. on how to finetune recommendations

– Customers want and need integration, Notes acts as a collaboration hub, administered from one point. Customers want and need openness

– to deal with the diversity of (european) markets it’s best to sort out the individual best practices (cause these are always geographically-tied best-practices …) – nothing to argue with that, but I would say that we have a growing portion of EU-designed regulations (compliance!), and basic patterns are similar

– emerging markets are going strong in collaboration software – and they are as (IT-) sophisticated as the rest of the world. They grab this new disruptive opportunity, ie. setup something mission-critical collaboration software without having to keep legacy systems working (why yes, fresh installs and leapfrogging can be good …). IBM is having more and more „research pockets“ and laboratories around the world – this helps with catering for the various markets (and I say with innovating in the areas that matter).

– we’ve also heard some bad-mouthing criticism on Microsoft – but OK, this is probably normal and we all know those IT guys know how to “play”. I leave it to you to select from the batch: “too tightly integrated stack”, “missing some substantial thoughts”, “missing out in mobile (they don’t get what people are asking for)”, “missing out in social software”, “what they are doing is not going to be more relevant for customers”. Don’t flame me …

– on collaboration – yes, appears and happens on all levels (and even between organizations). People now expect social collaboration capabilities to get their jobs done. Yes, I would add we need to focus on freeform emergent collaboration, like eg. all those barely repeatable processes (hat tip to Sig Rinde) which can’t hardly be predefined …

Lotusphere 2010 – Press & Analyst Briefing

IBM and Lotus are definitely treating press, analysts and bloggers the same way, the same work environment, the same access to key persons and interview opportunities. Indeed I am sitting next to Gartner people, eating the same dogfood they are.

And yes as I am writing this I am sitting next to real journalists™ too in the press and blogger’s room – each one of us tapping silently away on our  notebooks. No communication or socializing so far with the odd blogger and his sticker-tattooed laptop …

But joking aside – I am really happy about the opportunity to participate in this, it’s an information avalanche waiting to swallow me, err great information and industry insight at my fingertips.

Key topic of the briefing was the IBM Collaboration Agenda (official announcement), a lens & funnel to engage the partner community making them partners in innovation. Four industries are initially the object of this agenda: banking, insurance, healthcare and government where transformation is dearly needed. The task is to translate technology into the language of business …

LotusLive Labs are another hot topic – the cloud is real and it’s here to stay. IBM Research & Lotus joining forces to leverage and provide a pipeline for innovation in the cloud. Labs are designed as a platform for an ecosystem, an open integration environment where it’s possible to test and deploy quickly (they’re planning to do cool things like indexing and tagging, find ways to design scripted workflows in a cloud app etc.)

Mobile is a big word here too, for Lotus it’s not an aditional thought, it’s rather fully integrated into the thinking. I wrote about RIM being a partner already – they showed social software, yes but mobile solutions from Lotus will be done for all platforms and meaningful players (Android, no mentioning of Windows Mobile, alas, surprise).

Project Vulcan is another big topic, a roadmap, vision and blueprint for the future of collaboration – building on and leveraging existing investements, with a focus on developers. See the official announcement too for a start, as I am collecting more data points as well. Here’s what Lotusgeek notes:

It is a sneak peek at the evolution of collaboration. Extends the products we have now, focuses on continuity, convergency, innovations, new opportunities. It is a vision for the evolution of the Lotus business products. Loosely-coupled architecture. Consistent interface across all client form factors, including mobile and browser. Sets the stage for next generation of apps. Embraces open programming model, REST apis, widgets, mashups, and HTML5. Supports SSO, search, etc.

Well, they say Lotus acts upon what customers tell them, ie. be more flexible, more open. Project Vulcan focuses on (a knowledge worker’s ) context – be it content, people, business processes et al. And the sources of these can lay inside or outside an organization, and Vulcan is designed for integrating both business and personal information, for integrating on-site with cloud-based services, mobile access or not (while they hinted at cool mobile functionalities coming, like e.g. location based services). Overall it’s a step into the right direction, being more people-centric than application or business process centric, that way supporting the many individual ways people have to get their jobs done.

The briefing offered an opportunity to ask questions, I made some notes on the odd twelve inquiries but I still need to get my head around how to systematize and organize the answers into a blog post. And I have some personal observations and thoughts to share too. But I must hurry now, unless I will be late to the press, analysts and blogger’s evening event (socializing with free drinks I guess and hope …).