It's Lotusphere Time Again
Next week is the annual Lotusphere, the annual gathering of Lotus faithful at Disney World in Orlando. The big question for IBM is “what to do for an encore?”
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2007 was a big year for the Lotus Software group at IBM. Not only did they release a major upgrade to their core Notes/Domino platform (Notes 8), but they released a slew of new collaboration and social networking tools including Quickr and Connections. IBM demonstrated a strong commitment to the Lotus brand by engaging in numerous marketing and industry outreach campaigns, including a well publicized event in New York City last fall.
The end result among the enterprises I’ve met with is a renewed interest in IBM Lotus, driven equally by the efforts to bring new and compelling products to market, but also by growing enterprise interest in alternative platforms to Microsoft’s Office/Exchange/Outlook/SharePoint products. I’m still not sure that we’ll see large migrations back to Notes, but I think it’s going to be harder for current Notes users to justify switching to Microsoft.
This year’s event will be interesting to see where Lotus goes for an encore, and whether or not the efforts of the last year have born fruit. Will the Lotus users be truly excited about the new opportunities afforded by the previously mentioned products?
In the interest of disclosure I’ll note that I’m a new Notes user, having migrated from Outlook 2003 to Notes 8 in the last month. While I do miss some of the eye candy of Outlook, I’m pretty happy that I’m no longer seeing “Outlook is trying to contact the server” messages that caused frequent work stoppages. I’m also enamored with the speed, extensibility, and search capabilities built into Notes 8. As an organization we’re looking at some of the ways to use Notes’ extensibility to deliver custom applications to our users.
So is Lotus ready to reclaim momentum away from Microsoft? Perhaps we’ll have a better idea next week, or after Microsoft’s first SharePoint event in March.