I am down in Orlando at IBM’s Lotusphere 2009 event. Lotusphere is the annual conference targeted at users of Lotus products. It is held in the Disney Dolphin and Swan hotels, so once again I’m communing with Mickey Mouse.
The opening session of Lotusphere 2009 started with an eye-opening segment by the Blue Man Group. These guys are so cool. The guest keynote was delivered by Dan Aykroyd, who entered the stage in the character of Beldar the Conehead. His spin for Lotusphere was the need for collaboration, and he illustrated this need by telling a story about an unnamed actor who failed to collaborate with his camera crew. Not bad, and it was good to see Dan, but I prefered last year’s guest keynote by Neil Armstrong.
Then we moved into the meat of the session. Bob Picciano, General Manager, IBM Workplace, Portal and Lotus Collaboration Software (the big guy at Lotus), ran the rest of the show, which was filled with lots of product details by Bob’s direct reports, and tons of demos. There were three customer testimonials (Coca-Cola, Netjets, HSBC) that were pretty high level.
I saw two things that I really liked among all the announcements. One was Lotus’ UCC story, which featured Sametime Unified Telephony (SUT). The demos of SUT were very impressive, with users able to switch context between their collaborative world, messaging world and telephony world rapidly and seamlessly. Their integration with the mobile world, especially with the Blackberry, was really cool. The other stuff I liked was the announcement of LotusLive, their productization of Bluehouse, and their main entry into the world of the cloud. They discussed many LotusLive services, and a bundle of services called LotusLive Engage.
I wish the opening session had a better high level message, though. The product stuff was great, but there wasn’t much to bind it all together. High level themes like cost cutting driven by the economy and customer initiatives would have been a great framework within which to deliver the product news, and would have related it to the real world of IT and business. Oh well.
The Gartner analysts attending Lotusphere 2009 are having dinner tonight so we can lay out our plans for writing research about the event and the things we learned in talking with IBM execs, partners and attendees. Stay tuned for details.