It's the middle of Day 3 and I'm now getting around to my thoughts on yesterdays events. It was another full day of keynotes and briefings. I had little time to sit in on sessions but I did get to spend some time in the Innovation Lab.
The innovation lab is one of my favorite places at Lotusphere. I enjoy talking with the developers and seeing what they are up to. Sometimes the tools look like week-end projects other's are incredibly impressive and robust. My strategy in the lab is to do a quick once around, identify the tools that I'm most interested in and start with those. I never seem to have enough time to talk with all of the developers so I might as well get to the ones I really want to learn about. A few jumped out at me; a social interface called BeeHive (that Craig mentions in his blog), Spectacular a syndicated feed aggregator and web-based feed reader (something I believe should be a collaboration platform service), and OmniFind Personal Email Search a semantics-based e-mail search tool that lets users enter queries like "Jim Smith's phone number" that actually returns a list memos with Jim Smiths phone number, not memos with "Jim" and "Smith" and "phone" and "number". All good work and potentially very useful solutions.
Much of my day was spent in conversations with IBM Lotus executives in charge of the various products and strategies. There's been a lot of focus on the small and medium business market (SMB) in those meetings. I'm still sorting out my thoughts on all the commentary and discussions. What is clear is that IBM Lotus is committed to developing the SMB channel, through product offerings, solution up-sells, and partner incentives. SMB is a market that IBM has historically had difficulty attracting. It's a tough market to work with when you offer broad, industrial strength solutions. One challenge for IBM is to make products that can be right sized for the customer needs and then be augmented and enhanced as the customer grows. Another challenge is for IBM to make the product decision making as easy as possible for the SMB customer. Too many permutations of delivery models and solution choices will send SMBs hiking.
Another area that I spent time looking at was Unified Communications (UC). The morning mini-keynote announced the 10 year anniversary of Sametime as a product and focused on the new Sametime 8.0 features. The Sametime team continues to impress me with its clearly articulated strategy and products that support the vision. The Sametime team demonstrated current, planned, and future product features. The big announcements that didn't make it to the Opening General Session included OEM and partnering agreements with some large communications solutions providers. OEM agreements with Cisco and Nortel with sell through in each vendor's partner channels were announced. IBM Lotus also announced partnerships with Ericsson for smartphone integration of presence and live tags, and NEC for Internet broadband Sametime UC services. The big message with Sametime is "Unified Telphony" so customers can use Sametime services to manage calls across multiple telephony systems, networks (VoIP, land lines, wireless) and receivers (e.g., smartphones, softphones, telephone sets).
I'm off to the showcase to look at vendor products now!