Friday 6 April 2007

IBM and Consumer Products

A few days ago I blogged about some of the other big IT vendors offering Web 2.0 flavoured solutions and I asked:

"considering that one of the themes of Web 2.0 has been consumer driven innovation, I wonder how well these large vendors will be able keep up with the fast paced evolution of Web 2.0"

I now wonder if I was picking up some weak signals from somewhere, as the following day Luis Suarez also blogged about this same issue, but focusing on IBM and discussing if it should play in the consumer space - Luis argues that companies playing in the consumer space have an advantage in getting their products accepted in the enterprise space:

"All of those different companies that have been experimenting in the consumer market about how they can leverage social computing for their own offerings are soon going to be ready for the next stage, which is bringing together all that innovation into the enterprise world and continue to shake the ground further of how interactions are taking place. Their main key advantage at this stage? Well, the fact that they already have got a massive, and successful, critical mass of knowledge workers making use of those tools in their own private time. And now they would probably want to make use of them extensively at their own workplaces. This is something that most large enterprises out there will have to struggle with, and big time! Convincing their knowledge workers that what they have to offer to them, and their customers, is better than whatever they have been using all along for many months / years is going to be a hard sell, a very tough one, indeed, so ignoring the consumer market at this point in time and in the near future may not be the right approach to things.

Time will tell, but something that has been going in my mind for a while is that same Web 2.0 in the consumer market is what got us to the stage where we are now, so instead of just fighting against it I think it would be a whole lot more productive to actually embrace it and take it on to the next level. As I said, to me, that is where the main challenge is, and what will help differentiate those companies that will survive the next wave of Internet interactions and those which will fail along the way."

Again, talking about weak signals, I made some similar comments last year specifically about Lotus Notes:

"Unfortunately the real challenge that Lotus Notes faces from an Enterprise 2.0 platform is that it isn't a consumer technology - the trend we have seen is Web 2.0 technologies coming from the outside into organisations and with only few exceptions this is unlikely to happen for Lotus Notes."

I don't want to turn this into a debate about Lotus Notes, because it isn't. This issue affects any type of software that has feet in both the consumer and enterprise camps

There have been related posts by James Governor, Mike Gotta and Luis has also posted the following follow up with links to other related articles that are well worth reading.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:49 pm

    Hi James! Good post! Thanks for sharing and for the trackbacks. I must say that I have been involved with Lotus Notes myself (As a Power User, if you would want to call it that way) for nearly 10 years and up to not long ago I used to think along the same way: Lotus Notes was probably a bit too far away from making into a consumer product. However, things have changed. And quite a bit. And all that after the introduction (Still in beta though) of Lotus Notes 8, more than anything else because this particular release is actually putting together some really nice integrated capabilities that could make it go for the consumer market.

    To name a few: an integration with Instant Messaging through Lotus Sametime, that, as you may know, is now compatible with AOL, Yahoo! Messenger and Google Talk. Also with perhaps much better Web browsing capabilities having its own embedded browsers. An integrated RSS / Atom feed client that although very basic at the moment I am sure it would be greatly improved before it goes GA. Further integrating as well with Activities, so you can keep your own personal To Dos & GTD in a single space and fully integrated with your e-mail and calendar and, above all, the Composite Applications component that would allow folks create their own mashups and enter the Web 2.0 realm.

    So, as you can see, Notes may not have been ready for quite some time to enter the consumer market, but then again I feel that things could very well change with Notes 8. One thing I know for sure though, is that after having played myself with Beta 1 and 2 for a number of months / weeks, respectively, I could certainly vouch that it would be my main e-mail, calendaring and whatever else productivity related tool if I ever would need to chose between that one and whatever else. That is why I am really excited to see what would eventually be happening with this client once it reaches GA, planned for later on this year.


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