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Lotus pulling in consumer tech – Press Pass

I talk with the press frequently. They thankfully whack down my ramblings into concise quotes. For those who prefer to see more, I try to dump publish slightly polished up conversations I have with press into this category, Press Pass.

As part of her story “Experimenting on Themselves,” Erica Naone asked me about Lotus’ work to adopt consumer technology to enterprise use. Here’s my reply:

Lotus has sucked in virtually all of the concepts from the Web and Enterprise 2.0 worlds – I like to think of what they have as your own version of the web, for behind the firewall. It’s true that many of their features swirled around in IBM research for awhile (and that there’s more in there), but they’ve upped the pace of getting commercializing such efforts relative to their past performance it seems. Of late, they’ve done pretty well bringing consumer technology into the enterprise.

Most of what they have is around collaboration – white-collar folks (“knowledge workers”) working together in teams, hashing out a decision, a business program, what goes in some document, etc.

IBM is also building up offerings in the analytics and tracking space to help companies do business in more social-friendly ways on the web, a lot of “b2c” (business to consumer) stuff to use an Internet Bubble 1.0 term. Some of that stuff runs around in the WebSphere group, but it boils down to tracking everything you can about your customers and applying analytics to get better customer service (make them happy with what they’ve bought already and keep them from leaving you) and/or sell them more stuff. I call the idea “better junk mail”, but that’s a pretty cynical take on it. Getting a more intimate relationship with your customers is always handy, and hopefully you do it to study how to serve them better not just send them coupons to trick them into spending money they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Also, the LotusLive offering is nice looking: for as long as RedMonk and others have been trying to encourage the elder companies to go SaaS, it’s nice to finally see the likes of IBM doing it. The success of Google Apps, Salesforce, and other SaaSes shows that people want SaaS for certain types of applications and Lotus has done a good job finally catching up to that. The muddy fight here is always over pricing (as it should be: why bother going SaaS if it’s not both easier and cheaper?) and there’s a continous back and forth for different players to prove their cheaper, expose their competitions “hidden costs,” and the usual shenanigans.

Disclosure: IBM and are clients.

Categories: Collaborative, Enterprise Software, Press Pass.

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