Is yellow the new black? (Lotusphere - Lotus business partner community)

Lotusphere, the main IBM Lotus event of the year held annually in Orlando, starts ramping up for its main launch on Monday at 10:00, Sunday was Business Development day dedicated to the vibrant Lotus Business Partner community.

Not many communities have the level of camaraderie of the Lotus partner community and many see the annual trip to Orlando as a great way to renew friendships that go back years.  Collaboration at its best.

So, what’s happening in the Lotus community?  Well, most people outside the community, aided and abetted by Microsoft’s marketing, ask whether there still is a Lotus community.  Well, boy is there a community! 16 quarters of significant growth ahead of the market (Q4 results expected next Tuesday) is nothing to sneeze at and partners are obviously growing their businesses around the broad IBM Lotus Software portfolio or they would not come back each year.

Key messages today were no great surprises:  Connect, Collaborate and Innovate. These have been at the core of Lotus for years.  Lotus does all these and does them well.  IBM just struggles to let the world know about this success. That is a shame.

Lotus’ broad portfolio of products are well integrated, offer platform choice and spare you from having to do the version shuffle offered by Microsoft who often force upgrades of related products when you want/need to upgrade a particular product.

So, is yellow the new black?  Product wise I would have to say yes but as far as market mindshare outside the current Lotus community I would have to say probably not.  But if you are looking to drive cost savings through improved collaboration, then you just have to take a look at Lotus.  If you are looking to leverage the value of people, then you have to look at Lotus.

Lotus Software General Manager Bob Picianno has set some pretty agressive targets for 2009 including looking to grow messaging and collaboration at 1.8x the market rate, unified communications & collaboration by 1.9x the market rate etc., etc..

Partner recognisition was also high on the agenda today with the winners of the Lotus Awards being recognised and judging taking place for the CTO Innovation Award and the Best in Showcase award.  Our Integra for Notes product has been short-listed for the CTO Innovation award and we went through an assessment process with the judging panel.  Announcements at the General Session on Monday.  Fingers crossed.

Monday sees the main Opening General Session where no doubt new announcements will take centre stage.  More about the Lotus Software and SAP relationship is expected as well as announcements around SAAS and Cloud computing.

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