It is a long time since Lotus Software, owned by IBM since 1995, dominated a market, their Lotus 123 product though was a great spreadsheet package that led to a step change in spreadsheet software and Lotus Notes later did the same. Lotus missed out though when Microsoft Office came along and dominated a market that could have been Lotus’. Lotus and IBM may now though have the chance to steal a march on rivals as cloud computing takes off.
LotusLive is in with a chance of becoming the standard for Cloud hosted office software suites if its starting point is anything to go by. Lotus have since the 90s quietly been providing through IBM client hosted software primarily on IBM machines, software that is loved by most who use it. The design of these has continued into what is available now: LotusLive a complete suite of programs that can be easily set up for cloud hosting and which significantly will integrate with various other apps and services.
LotusLive is able to integrate with services such as LinkedIn, Skype and Salesforce, key for its CMS system which is among the best in the business. A CMS that integrates properly, effectively and, even more importantly, usefully with Social Media is the future but currently anything but common. File sharing, instant messaging and managing multi company projects is also possible through the CMS part of LotusLive: known as Connections.
With people on the move more and more and with communications coming in from a dozen sources rather than just phone and e-mail this kind of solution makes a lot of sense and is overdue. LotusLive predict that most businesses will between 2011 and 2015 be switching to a Cloud solution as the benefit becomes more obvious, including the price benefit.
Even with the best product Lotus will have stiff competition from Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 and pricing will be vital. LotusLive is charged for on a pay as go system making it instantly attractive as an alternative to client hosted or desktop software with expensive one off licenses and expensive upgrades. Most modules will be charged for per user per month, this will also encourage people to try the whole offering and then stick with those parts that are most useful to them.
Lotus’s existing brand will be important as well, though Lotus Live is relatively new the Lotus brand is still associated with good quality professional software and a lot of people ended up with Office as a bundled package and though the learning curve might be a hurdle some people wouldn’t miss Office having been stuck with it as the only viable option for years. As for Google Apps it has a lot of potential but as yet it doesn’t feel as professional as LotusLive and isn’t as heavily featured.
After years being behind it seems Lotus with LotusLive may have a real opportunity to catch up wirth the competition: for this though getting LotusLive as the product of choice for consumers as well as businesses may be necessary too.