This morning, IBM is releasing specific details on the success for Lotus products during the first half of 2008.  I have been here a long time; this press release is different in a number of ways from any we've done in the past.

Led by strong sales of IBM Lotus Notes and Domino 8 in the second quarter of 2008, IBM's Lotus software business outgrew Microsoft by winning millions of customer seats worldwide in direct competition with Microsoft, aided by key wins over its Redmond-based rival in emerging markets.
Let's take a look at a few of the specifics in this press release -- many will be stunned by the openness from IBM and Lotus General Manager Bob Picciano.

"Among those customer wins was Lotus' largest Asian customer engagement to date -- a major bank licensing 300,000 Lotus Notes seats as well as Lotus Symphony"
-- this win will get a separate announcement in coming days, but it's worth highlighting that a brand-new Lotus Notes customer of such size entered our installed base during Q2.

"Lotus Symphony has been downloaded by over 1.3 million individuals and businesses"
-- great news for Symphony momentum.

"The second quarter saw the largest historical client win for Lotus in North America as well.  A member of the so-called "big six" accounting/consulting firms purchased more than 150,000 seats of the entire Lotus portfolio,"
 -- OK, I'm not sure "Big six" means anything anymore and should have caught that, but the point is made.

The press release goes on from there to name over 25 recent Lotus customer wins by name.  It also highlights recent market momentum such as the success of Lotus Connections at the Enterprise 2.0 conference.  There are a couple of shots at Microsoft around Exchange 2007 and Vista.

The last paragraph of the release is, to me, the most important (emphasis mine):
With 15 consecutive quarters of revenue growth, IBM's flagship Lotus Notes and Domino products has been transformed into a versatile tool that consolidates the individual's work world onto one screen...
Over the last four years, IBM has called out Lotus's growth in each of the last 15 quarterly earnings SEC filings.  However, other than "lead by impressive Notes performance" or the like, IBM has never previously stated on the record that Lotus Notes/Domino was growing in tandem with the overall Lotus brand.  Occasionally, I've seen naysayers suggest that the Lotus brand growth was happening despite Notes, or that the growth was the result of IBM Global Services contracts or whatever.  All of the FUD -- wrong.  

The growth in the Notes/Domino business every single full quarter that I've been the product sales executive for Notes/Domino is something I'm especially proud of.  Far from allowing the product to die in the OS/2-like manner that some seem convinced is the IBM way, we've taken this business forward with new customers, more seats on maintenance, and organic growth -- all of which means that we've held or gained market share over that time.  Yes, we've benefitted from currency exchange or price increases -- but since many of our large deals are negotiated anyway, these factors wash out.  Simply put, today's press release puts the exclamation point on the performance of the last four years -- The Notes/Domino business has enjoyed tremendous top line growth in that time, and has allowed us to do things like commit to great releases like 8.0.2 and 8.5, two major additional versions already on the 2009+ roadmap, and Lotusphere through 2015,.  We always have room for better execution, and I don't take this success as a given.

Many of you have encouraged IBM to get more aggressive about the continued success of Lotus Notes/Domino.  I hope you'll see today's press release as a clear signal that the message has been received....and action has commenced.

Link: IBM GROWTH IN EMERGING MARKETS FUELS LOTUS MOMENTUM AGAINST MICROSOFT >

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