Lotus chief defines imminent battle plan

Bob Picciano will take his integration pitch to the people in January at Lotusphere.

IBM's Lotus Software division chief Bob Picciano

IBM's Lotus Software division chief Bob Picciano

"Notes has this basic collaboration, basic content management, this application development environment that includes a user-accessible application environment, and those things have made Notes unique for some time," says Rob Koplowitz, the Forrester analyst who wrote the report. "But now there is another player in town with SharePoint."

Some experts say with Quickr, Connections and Sametime, Lotus has a formidable trio of new tools to go along with old gems like Notes replication that SharePoint cannot yet match.

"If a customer says they don't want Notes, IBM can still come in and say this trio can do things that are market leading," says Peter O'Kelly, principal analyst for O'Kelly Consulting. "You have Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 kinds of collaboration, and market leading real-time communication tools. And it works on Notes/Domino, WebSphere, Java, DB2, Oracle and they fit with Microsoft tools such as Exchange. And another advantage is that it works across a variety of platforms; Linux, Unix, Solaris, Windows."

Industry experts say the dramatic adoption of SharePoint and its positioning as Microsoft's collaboration hub could lead users to add other Microsoft software such as Exchange and Office Communications Server at the expense of Lotus.

In addition, IBM is seeing many new competitors, including Oracle and Cisco, who want a piece of the collaboration and social networking pie.

Microsoft went on record in July as saying it wants to get Lotus customers to convert five million seats of Notes to Microsoft's collaboration tools between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009.

Picciano doesn't see that happening.

"We are leaving others like Microsoft in the rear-view mirror because they are more caught up in protecting franchises and not focused on liberating workforces and getting people to democratically share information and link together in a business context," he said. "The golden egg Microsoft is laying [with SharePoint] is coming from the chicken they have, which is a monopoly desktop environment."

Picciano has presided over a number of attacks on Microsoft.

He cites the coup Lotus scored earlier this year at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, trumping SharePoint by many analyst accounts with the array of social networking tools in Connections.

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