Alexander Kluge: IBM loves Social Media – where does that leave Lotus?

by Volker Weber

20 years history of Lotus Notes show us: It is always about enabling people to communicate, to collaborate and to coordinate the business processes. About handling unstructured data. And much more. Still hot, today probably much more important than 20 years ago. So far I really enjoy what I hear at Lotusphere 2011.

But where does that leave Lotus?

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Lotusphere is a marketing event, always has been. One of it's major goals is to convince people that IBM is in some way defining the path to "the future", and that IBM will be delivering technology to enable its customers to travel on that path.

So it's not (really) about how to use the existing technology today. Yes, there are quality problems, delivery problems, pricing problems, even functionality problems. But IBM wants our attention directed at The Future (even though there's a ton of great content at Lotusphere aimed at The Now as well).

In a way, Lotusphere and other such events are aimed squarely at convincing the Gartner Group to do magic quadrants where IBM is in the top-right corner, and where IBM gets to influence the definition of the market. Remember "groupware" and "knowledge management"?

In this context, "Lotus" is just a name. It used to be a company, then it was an IBM subsidiary. But that was more than 10 years ago. Now it's a "brand". Kremlin-watchers will have by now detected a shift within IBM away from emphasis on the Lotus brand in some respects. Will that shift continue? Accelerate? Decelerate? We don't know, yet.

So evidently "social business" is the theme of the moment, the concept with which IBM (or at least, that corner of IBM where collaboration infrastructures are key) wants to shape the analysts' perceptions of the market, and with which IBM can demonstrate leadership. It's the "Work the Web" of 2011.

Bob Balaban, 2011-02-02

While i can understand the term "Social Business" in the context of IBM Lotus, the general definition of social business is here

Senthil Kumar, 2011-02-02

Craig Roth from Gartner posted a small review on his blog. Social we all march into Gartner top right magic quadrant.

Henning Heinz, 2011-02-02

Senthil - indeed, and I think Volker pointed that out in a previous entry. Hijacking an established word or term and making it mean something different is hardly new in the IT world, but this is a particularly bad choice for IBM and they may come to regret it.

On the other hand, in a year or two or five they'll have moved onto the next Big Thing and the 'real' meaning of Social Business will still be there in 99% of people's heads who IBM/Lotus won't have reached.

Julian Woodward, 2011-02-06

Julian, yes i haven't noticed that. And you are right, after all this is only a LS2011 theme like any other themes in the past. It could very well change next year ;)

Senthil Kumar, 2011-02-10

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