James Governor: Lotus Gears Up To Embrace The Web, Rebuild its Developer Story, pwn Social Business

James Governor of respected analyst firm RedMonk is excited by the direction that Lotus is taking right now, particularly with reference to development platforms:

Lotus is about apps. But that won’t cut it as a platform play. Without a strong developer story Lotus can only be a top down big sale item – that is, IBM business as usual. But IBM needs growth in collaboration, from the bottom up, and that means developers. Its been a long time since Lotus had a decent story for developers- arguably since the embedded app server was deprecated, and Lotus took a turn to the heavyweight with WebSphere.

I was pleased to see a classic consultant slide from Lotus GM Alistair Rennie with a quadrant labeled Developer. Not a moment to soon. IBM needs to dramatically accelerate its attraction to Web developers – and Rational is the wrong tool for the job.

So what kind of language did Rennie use about Lotus and its developer play?

  • Social Business platform design principles
  • web UI (see ibm project vulcan)
  • strong aggregator toolkit
  • mobile first as a design point
  • embedded experience
  • security model from the ground up

Nothing there to scare off a web developer. And what about the standards IBM plans to support with this new approach, code-named Project Vulcan.

  • OpenSocial
  • Oauth
  • SAML
  • CMIS
  • ATOM
  • ActivityStreams
  • HTML5
  • OpenAJAX

Whoa – that’s a laundry list designed to keep a Silicon Valley hipster happy (well, maybe if you took SAML out, anyway). IBM needs to deliver of course- but if it really goes after this stack, packaging up the technologies that developers actually want to use, it could become aspirational in terms of pulling web developers into enterprise work. The winner in any tech wave is the best packager- so far no enterprise company has nailed and packaged the web development wave.

So, James likes the idea of Lotus appealing to Web developers.  

What about Lotusphere and it’s theme ‘Social Business’:

So what about this Social Business stuff?

IBM has some great assets there. The Lotus portfolio is surprisingly functional in terms of chatter based apps. But the real kicker for me discovering that Sandy Carter has a new role for 2011 – She is now Vice President IBM Social Business and Collaboration Solutions Sales and Evangelism. If you don’t follow IBM SWG you may not know that Sandy is Steve Mills’ go to person for the job that needs doing, particularly spanning cross party lines. Last year Sandy ran channel sales and IBM’s performance improved by a significant percentage. So she will be working with an already solid Lotus team to drive Social Business in IBM customers.

It will be fascinating to see the role that Sandy Carter takes on at Lotusphere and through 2011.  (Darren Duke and I have interviewed Sandy on the latest episode of This Week in Lotus due out tomorrow – I’ll post the link when it is available.)

Finally, what’s James looking to see at Lotusphere?

I am going to Lotusphere in a couple of weeks and everything should be somewhat clearer after that. IBM is running a Social Business Industries conference in tandem with the tech show, which is new and pretty cool- looking at things like Open Government. All in all though I am fairly positive about things. And from a disclosure perspective I should point out that we work with Lotus, and I am pretty fired up about helping IBM better serve web developers. We have been pushing for this for a long time.

James and the Redmonk team are taking part in the Business Development Day at Lotusphere 2011, so it will be intriguing to see their input, particularly around the Lotus application development story.

Fascinating times…

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!