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Posted by Sheri McLeish on January 20, 2010
First, thank you IBM/Lotus for getting me out of Boston before the snow. I know that has something to do with my good mood. But that aside, what Lotus unveiled at its 17th annual Lotusphere in Orlando this week warms my heart in another way. For all the advancements in its product portfolio and technologies, the real accomplishment is Lotus' keen focus on people, context, and simplicity.
IBM wants us to have a Smarter Planet, and Lotus "Knows" how to get there. Its vision for collaboration is deeply connected to personal productivity. With LotusLive, launched just a year ago, the effort is to allow people to be able to stay in their in-box and bring work tasks, information, and people together, in context. It has 18 million users today compared to just about 1 million each for Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) and Google Premier Apps. It's landing more huge enterprise accounts, including the just announced more than 150,000 seats with Panasonic. Yet it still seems that many people don't know Lotus, because most of my inquiries continue to ask about Microsoft or Google. Let me share.
So much of the iWorker's day is spent searching for information, toggling between applications, and pulling content together from various sources to support a business activity or process. Unlike Google Wave, which does try to innovate to accomplish similar collaborative experiences, LotusLive doesn't require radically altering behavior to get there (see Ted Schadler's related Lotus blog). Email is an hourly addictionfor iWorkers, so LotusLive starts there and integrates Web conferencing, social networking, and collaboration within the environment.
Symphony, Lotus' free Open Office productivity suite, will soon also be integrated to provide a web-based document document editor for creating and sharing (which surprisingly drew spontaneous cheers from the crowd).
Critical mass matters for the success of social networking and collaboration. So does trust and track record. IBM/Lotus meets the security litmus test because of its proven ability to support enterprise needs across its product portfolio. Google has yet to earn that trust. Microsoft engenders the same level of trust and is hot on the heels of Lotus with its 2010suite of products, slated to be launched midyear. But in the cloud, Lotus is way ahead and offering the kind of ease of access to people and content in context that Microsoft has yet to master. Consider:
Given the concerted effort to solve iWorker pain points through actual use cases, within their core customer industries like banking and healthcare, Lotus is able to deliver what Google Wave fails to address: providing a solution that improves personal productivity without forcing a change in work behavior. The “build it and they will come” approach generally fails. Just look at any efforts around document collaboration and team sites usage. Incrementally improving upon the investments that you already have without forcing a cultural change, however, will be a powerful differentiator. Who knew? Lotus.