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Lotusphere Update 2: Mike Rhodin Meets the Bloggers
By Fred Knight Late this afternoon, Mike Rhodin, GM of all things Lotus - and who'll be a keynoter at VoiceCon Orlando -- met with bloggers attending Lotusphere for a Q&A session. Below is a rough transcription of this session, rough because I'm a lover not a typist, and also because the vast quantities of Maker's Mark and wine I consumed during the past weekend in New Orleans are still working their way through my system.
By Fred Knight
Late this afternoon, Mike Rhodin, GM of all things Lotus - and who'll be a keynoter at VoiceCon Orlando -- met with bloggers attending Lotusphere for a Q&A session. Below is a rough transcription of this session, rough because I'm a lover not a typist, and also because the vast quantities of Maker's Mark and wine I consumed during the past weekend in New Orleans are still working their way through my system.Q. What's next for Lotus now that Web 2.0 is passe and we're moving into Web 3.0?
A. Virtual world technology......adding gaming theory to business apps........this appeals to a generation of gamers coming up thru the system right now.......virtual immersion in a multi-user environment (Blogger's note to self: Quit drinking, NOW!)........in our Innovation Lab here at Lotusphere we're showing several experiments...and we're also we're looking at the aggregation of multiple data centers into a virtual data center.......this has a long way to go, but the potential is very exciting.......
Q. What is the most disruptive thing you've seen in the past couple years?
A. Social software.........it challenges the traditional hierarchal structure in many organizations........some businesses could conceivably break down, and there may be some regulatory meltdowns re data leakage in regulated industries........but the upside, the transformational power could be phenomenal....if you think of IBM as a global consulting business, the most important asset we have is our talent pool.......so you'll see us expand this in our own work as well as our customers/clients. We have to go thru 2-3 releases but it's going to be something.
Q. What didn't you get a chance to cover during the opening general session?
A. Unified communications is a massive opportunity in the market, and we'll go into more detail and have more announcements tomorrow....also Web 2.0.......stuff in the Innovation Labs......
Q. In the non-profit sector we're seeing tons of customers shift out of Notes and Exchange to go to Gmail.......What's IBM got to counter?
A. In September we made announcements in this area - for example the Domino Web Access Lite. In Lotus Foundations, we'll come out with Foundation screens -- easy-to-use user interfaces in all the tools that will be invisible to users whether an app is running on a server or as SAAS or moving between the two. The good news is that we're shortening our release cycle - we're delivering on a 6-week or less release cycle instead of every 18 months.......
Q. On the Web side of the Lotus product set, there are still some areas that are easier to use on Microsoft Windows servers. Are you giving high visibility to this issue?
A. [emphatic] YES! [Much laughter all around.]
Q. Re your new SMB initiatives, every month I get multiple flyers from local education centers offering certification on Microsoft or Cisco products, but never IBM. Will there be Lotus certification for the new SMB-oriented products?
A. I'm not going to pre-announce anything, but that should be very high on my priority list. [Again, laughter all around.]
Q. How will IBM combat the prevalence of "toolbar for outlook"?
A. We've started working with the public sites - e.g., today's announcement re Facebook. But there's more to come.......the consumer social network sites have to figure out if we're friend or foe.
Q. How has Lotus market share done vis a vis Microsoft Outlook over the past year?
A. Relatively well.....Microsoft is the most aggressive I've ever seen in the past 12 months. We also launched a counteroffensive with 6-week release cycles....in social software most analysts tell us we're way ahead........we've been investing like crazy.......the Lotus development group is the largest it's ever been.
Q. Lotus Notes has a lot of value for a lot of companies, but what are you doing to improve the customer experience out of the box?
A. We're upgrading all the base templates to the Web 2.0 style........those won't be available until Release 8.5, but that's not that far into the future.
Q. Re Lotus Foundations [aimed at SMB], from a sales/marketing point of view, this is a different audience than enterprises........how are you going to talk to them?
A. When you open another front in a battle, you make sure your supply lines are set up and you don't telegraph all your positions ahead of time. We've acquired companies with channel partners and expertise.......the competitive advantage in technology is short, so an acquisition has to be about acquiring people and knowledge....The folks who have been serving the smaller end of SMB have different perspectives, and we plan on expanding their role and looking at non-traditional routes to market.......We're excited and we're going to play to win....our pricing models and the TCO will be key.