LotusLive goes live!

LotusLiveAs many of you will be aware by now, Lotus BlueHouse is now LotusLive Engage, and is part of a new brand from IBM – LotusLive!:

IBM Lotus Introduces New Portfolio of Integrated Cloud Services
LotusLive.com Is the New Destination for Smarter Work

ORLANDO, FL – 19 Jan 2009: LOTUSPHERE — IBM (NYSE:IBM) today announced LotusLive, a cloud-based portfolio of social networking and collaboration services designed for business. LotusLive will extend customers’ current investments and link to everyday business services. LotusLive.com is now the place to find all of Lotus’ cloud solutions including email, collaboration and Web conferencing services.

“With LotusLive, we are brining 20 years of experience in collaboration to the cloud,” said Bob Picciano, general manager, IBM Lotus software. “We believe our open, integrated platform will dramatically simplify and improve the way businesses interact with their partners and customers. With this offering we’re taking Lotus to more people, in more places, than ever before.”

LotusLive is designed to help companies work smarter by making it easy for them to connect and work together — with an emphasis on simplicity and ease of use. LotusLive’s online services give businesses of all sizes access to Lotus’ rich collaboration tools without requiring an up-front investment in IT support resources or infrastructure.

I really like the new name – it has a good sound to it, provides much needed energy and resonance to the Lotus brand, and will act as a catch all for all Lotus online efforts over the next few years.  Others have pointed out that vendors such as Microsoft and Sony also have online efforts featuring the ‘Live’ moniker, but I don’t see that as being a major issue – LotusLive sounds new and exciting.

Better still, this significant push by Lotus towards the online space seems to have been rewarded by commitments from ISVs and service providers alike to provide integration and companion solutions.  In fact, this could be the biggest news of all:

LotusLive is built using open Web-based standards and an open business model allowing it to easily integrate with third party applications. Today Lotus previewed several examples of “Click to Cloud” — the ability to seamlessly link on-premise solutions with LotusLive services. “Click to Cloud” will help customers extend the value of their existing investments by making it easy to bridge solutions inside the firewall to the cloud.

IBM also previewed compelling business partner application integration. IBM announced partnerships with Skype, LinkedIn and salesforce.com that will deliver integrated collaborative solutions to an audience of more than 400 million people worldwide.

LinkedIn, an online network of more than 34 million business professionals, announced today it intends to work with IBM to connect the LinkedIn network with LotusLive. LotusLive users will be able to search LinkedIn’s public professional network and then instantly collaborate with them using LotusLive services.

Salesforce.com today demonstrated integrating LotusLive services within its CRM solutions, helping to simplify and improve customer interactions. Businesses will be able to extend the customer and opportunity management work done in the Salesforce CRM application with the collaborative capability of LotusLive.

Skype has announced plans to integrate its voice and video with LotusLive to create a seamless communications experience. This integration will allow LotusLive customers to conveniently call Skype contacts from within their LotusLive contacts.

So, IBM has a new brand, and new suite of services (of which Engage is just the first) and has, I feel, surged into a leading position as an SaaS provider of collaborative services.  Google Apps may have made an earlier play to the consumer and lower-end SMB market, but IBM has played catch up well, and in many ways is much better positioned than Google to build cloud-based solutions for the Enterprise.

Remember this day – the day Lotus exploded up into the Cloud.  This could be a very big deal…

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!