IBM loves Social Media – where does that leave Lotus?

First of all: I love learning about IBM´s approach to adopt social media for business. It is great to talk about this here at Lotusphere. This is one of the main reasons why I am here.

The mission for IBM: Deliver robust, scalable and secure technologies that enables companies to adopt social media technologies to drive business, respond fast to market needs, etc.

Most of the examples of the CIOs at the keynotes yesterday and today are about connecting people and knowledge. Finding the right people with the right expertise, connecting in real time, working together on projects at any time and any place. You heard that before? Right. This is still the same discussion. Roll back 10 years and see the slides about Knowledge Management. And 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?
There are a few thousand attendees at Lotusphere. Most of them have been here for more than one time. Some of us visited Lotusphere ten or more times. Most of attendees still fight with their Domino Infrastructure, they roll out Notes 8.5.2 because the end of Notes 7 is near, they have to maintain Notes applications that were build with Notes 5 or 6 technologies. When I talk to these guys I realize: What IBM talks about in the keynotes at this conference is far far away from most attendees reality. Even more far away when you work for a non US-company – let´s say in Germany.

If these guys return home and spread the social media word, the boss will cut their budget. Facebook-like applications? Twitterize our messaging infrastructure? Share-Buttons? Rollout a complete new social software infrastructure? The CIO will ask: Are you nuts? If not – the CFO will ask that question.

I know all the pros to engage NOW in social media technologies. But I fear IBM is up in the cloud, too far away from the customers needs. The analyst say: Companies who adopt social media technologies are more succesfull. I would say: There is no causality. There might be a coincidence, meaning succesfull companies often are engaged in social media, they live the Enterprise 2.0 way. But I don´t see companies becoming successfull by adopting these technologies. This is much more a culture issue. But besides a few CIOs, analysts and press people there are a few thousand people here that would have loved to see some more Notes and Domino related stuff – not only in the very good sessions, but in the keynotes.

Update: Excellent statement from Bob Balaban on

5 Responses to “IBM loves Social Media – where does that leave Lotus?”

  • You are intelligent man.
    You have studied 2 (or even more) studies.
    Does the points you critizice by any means surprise you?
    Its a wee bit clichéd, but the Lotus Community will never cease to amaze me.
    U need car like in movie back 2 the future 😉
    Suddenly you wake up and you can tell customers about „dynamic“ not „statically typed“ „web applications“. Or explaining customers that Domino is a database and a application server and a client and the customer cares.

  • Axel, you might be an intelligent man, too.

    So please comment here in a way so everybody can proove it.

  • Great post, Alexander. I actually think the key point you make is the last one – there are cultural issues here. Oh, don’t for a moment believe (and you obviously have enough healthy skepticism *not* to believe) that an „Enterprise 2.0 transformation“ as such is a painless, smooth event that suddenly happens inside an organisation… it’s a transformation driven by people, and it often requires a lot of convincing. As an IBMer I can say that I’ve been following a „social“ path for a number of years and I have been challenged as to how and why I’m engaging with customers and colleagues via tools like Twitter and LinkedIn – it is the examples that „sell“ the value of this engagement.

    Here’s my opinion of where this „leaves Lotus“. Right in the heart of an organisation. It’s about people and as you point out, it always has been about the people. The email and document management stuff remain core. The web stuff, the ability to collaborate and pull feeds and tweets and things into the Notes client – well, imagine if Lotus *hadn’t* reinvented the Notes client, if Lotus hadn’t offered an enterprise social offering like Connections – then you’d be writing about how the brand was no longer relevant. Instead, they still (in my opinion) offer leading solutions in this space.

    I „live“ in a different brand – WebSphere – and there, the messages have increasingly been around dynamic business process improvement and such. Where does that „leave“ the application server – well, it underlies everything that the rest of the brand does, much as Notes/Domino does for Lotus. Maybe you’ll find more content around application development and administration during the rest of the LS11 sessions.


  • I could not agree more. I guess I can omit the „What’s new from Lotusphere“ presentations to my customers this year.

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