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Issue Date: January 2008

AnalystWatch: Lotusphere 2008 - an anarchy of innovation?

January 2008
Dwight B. Davis and Steve Hodgkinson, analysts at Ovum

At IBM's annual Lotusphere conference last week, Lotus Software general manager Mike Rhodin announced his team's successful delivery of all of the products in the roadmap announced at last year's show, and unveiled a further blizzard of new functions and features for the flagship Lotus Notes, Domino, Sametime, Connections, Quickr, and WebSphere Portal products.

At IBM's annual Lotusphere conference last week, Lotus Software general manager Mike Rhodin announced his team's successful delivery of all of the products in the roadmap announced at last year's show, and unveiled a further blizzard of new functions and features for the flagship Lotus Notes, Domino, Sametime, Connections, Quickr, and WebSphere Portal products.
Analyst view
The size of the Lotusphere conference, with 7000 attendees this year, is more evidence of the ongoing revitalisation of the IBM Lotus Software Group's fortunes. Clearly, as part of IBM, and with a following web 2.0 wind, Lotus' time has now come. Rhodin has assembled the first complete set of what we would now call 'enterprise 2.0' software - tools to tap into the combined heat and energy surrounding social networking, unified communications, collaboration and SOA. All the buzzwords a CEO or CIO could wish for.
The problem, of course, is that this is all devilishly complicated stuff. The number of announcements and the breadth of functionality covered in day one of Lotusphere were quite overwhelming. Our initial impression is of an 'anarchy of innovation'. This sounds like a bad thing, but it is not - and here is why.
Innovation is messy, unpredictable, creative and inherently about heterogeneity - about embracing and leveraging differences. The commercialisation of innovation, however, also requires the ability to deploy global infrastructure, to get people working in teams and to integrate systems and information. How to differentiate and integrate simultaneously? This is the rub.
And it is the nettle that Lotus has grasped. Part of Rhodin's strategy is to create an adaptive suite of open standards-based, composite applications that meet the evolving needs of today's knowledge workers.
The strategy is to offer users the potential of an integrating user experience while at the same time embracing heterogeneous ICT environments and creating robust integration to back end systems via open standards and web services.
This presents itself as a complicated toolbox of solutions. But the solutions are all architected to open standards and built in Eclipse and so will (it is hoped) play together well, and indeed also play together with most other leading software products - and that after all is the real innovation, is it not?
Lotus is presenting an ever more flexible and adaptive path forward for enterprise buyers, rather than a 'bet the company' vendor and software standardisation decision. This sounds good in theory, and the test for Lotus will be its ability to actually deploy this vision in practice. If the past year is anything to go by, Rhodin and his team are well on track.
Source: Computergram


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