Friday, April 30, 2010

UC Summit 2010 -- Part I -- Everything Old is New Again

I attended the UC Summit 2010 conference this week, and it was a very interesting look inside the broader unified communications market.  There were keynote sessions from (almost) all of the major vendor sponsors, including: Cisco, IBM, Avaya, and NEC.  The one exception was Microsoft, which apparently is going through a re-organization of its unified communications group, and so their scheduled speaker was a last minute cancel and replaced by a round table of speakers on Microsoft's channel programs.  I'll break my observations down across a few posts.

This was a very different conference for me.  As someone who has been to many many Lotus conferences, it was an odd feeling to be a part of a conference where the majority of individuals came from a different background--namely telephony resellers and vendors.  The main conference themes were clearly targeted at these attendees, and it was fascinating.

One theme that was expressed over and over was that the UC industry was moving from a hardware focus to a software focus.  This was espoused by Blair Pleasant in the very first workshop of the conference, and echoed by many others.  It is clearly a major shift in the industry, and given the conversations throughout the week, it was clearly disruptive and causing anxiety among the traditional VARs in this space.  For myself as a Lotus business partner, I was actually heading the opposite direction--going from a complete software focus to meet them in the middle where the software touches the telephony.

Nowhere was this move to evolve from a telephony hardware business more evident than in the keynote by Cisco.  Cisco is now positioning itself not as a networking, telephony nor even a unified communications company.  Instead, the great next new thing is ... collaboration!  Several times during this presentation I had to double-check and make sure I was listening to the Cisco presentation and not a Lotus presentation.  From
  • touting the importance of technology, process and culture (ok, I guess IBM called it people, process and technology), 
  • to promoting open architecture and industry standards, 
  • to its new emphasis on applying collaboration to industry verticals, 
Cisco sounded like it was singing more than a single verse from the Lotus hymnal.
The other big theme from Cisco was the importance of video for collaboration--not surprising given that John Chambers has spoken of video as the next big thing for many years now.  And with Cisco's Tandberg acquisition, Cisco can now make it so.  Cisco is predicting that video traffic will account for 80% of all network traffic in the future, and it was clear to more than one person in the audience that that would mean some tidy profits for Cisco's traditional business as well.

Well, Lotus may be 20 years ahead of Cisco in the collaboration space, but Cisco has listened to the teachings of the elder closely, and has some spry legs underneath it.  More importantly, it knows how to market the heck out of its products, and not abstract themes.  It should prove interesting to see how this plays out over the next few years.

That's all for this post... More on the UC Summit 2010 to come.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ed Brill to Keynote LCTY Cleveland, May 25

I'm excited to announce that Ed Brill will be delivering the keynote at this year's Lotusphere Comes to You in Cleveland!  Thanks Ed, I'm sure the whole community is looking forward to hearing your presentation and touching base with you.

We have a great set of presentations and speakers lined up for this year's event.  You can see the full agenda with the link to the registration page here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

For less than 2 Venti Chai Lattes a Month

You could pay for a LotusLive Meetings subscription for a host and up to 14 participants, assuming you are an existing Lotus customer.  I have been surprised that I have not seen more customers taking advantage of this extremely competitive pricing. 
  • If you are using any other hosted web conferencing service, you owe it to your organization to evaluate LotusLive Meetings.  
  • If you are using Lotus Sametime for external web conferences, then you are probably purchasing concurrent user licenses for your external meeting participants.  At $519 x 14 external users, plus the $60 for your internal Sametime user hosting the meeting, that's a cost of $7,326 a year for a comparable number of meeting participants.  Now granted those costs go down year 2, but that's approximately 14 x $104 + $14.40 = $1470.40.  So from a pure external web conferencing standpoint, you should be looking at LotusLive Meetings.
  • If you are not using any web conferencing software today, are you kidding?  Eliminate one in-person meeting a year that involves renting a car for a day, and you've paid for your LotusLive Meeting subscription for the YEAR!  If you're not taking advantage of the savings web conferencing provides, then you either print money or work on Wall Street.
 LotusLive Meetings integrates very nicely into your Notes client as well.  First, your meeting ID is persistent over time, so you have the same meeting URL for each meeting.  So in the Notes calendar, you can set up one entry for LotusLive Meetings, and re-use it every time you're scheduling an online meeting.

There is also a plug-in you can deploy into your sidebar that makes it quick and simple to launch a meeting you're hosting, or to enter the ID of another meeting you with to attend.  What I like about this is I don't have to think about going out to the LotusLive site, etc. to start a meeting.  I click 'Host Meeting' button and we're off...

And one final nice integration, you can do "Instant LotusLive Meetings" with your Sametime Contacts as well through an additional menu item available when you click on a contact.

If you need to host more than 14 other participants in a meeting, than other clip levels are available at 199 or 999 participants.  Unfortunately, the special pricing for existing Lotus customers does not apply at those clip levels (hopefully IBM will change that in the future). 

So what are you waiting for?  Cut back on the caffeine and sign up for LotusLive Meetings today. 

Lotusphere Comes to You -- Cleveland, May 25

Here are the details for the upcoming Lotusphere Comes to You in Cleveland. 

Click here to register.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010
8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Embassy Suites Cleveland-Rockside
5800 Rockside Woods Blvd., Independence, OH
Get Directions

See you there!

Test, test, test

Thanks for lightening things up, Nathan.  :-D

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Turning the email feature race on its head

When it comes to new releases of software, as a technology geek, I'm used to looking for what cool new features a new piece of software offers us.  Sometimes the business benefit takes the back seat initially to what is cool. 

So, when I first learned the details of the features of LotusLive iNotes, my initial reaction was a bit of a let down.  "What, you mean this doesn't even have the same capabilities of iNotes deployed on-premises?"  Well, no, it's not even based on Domino.  It is the technology Lotus acquired when they purchased Outblaze.

OK, so what do you get?  Surely IBM wouldn't buy less capable technology than what it had already possessed?  Well, actually, yes they would.  LotusLive iNotes is a very easy to use web-mail and personal calendaring solution.  It has a very basic feature set for mail,which you can experience yourself by signing up for a trial

But why would a company look to a solution with fewer bells and whistles than standard Domino or Exchange?

Well, take a look at the price point.  $36 a user a YEAR, or $24 a user a YEAR for a company that owns other Lotus licenses.  You will not find a more competitive price point. But have times really become so tight that we have to throw out all the capabilities of our rich collaboration environments?  For some companies in these in economic times, the answer is yes.  But IBM is not really targeting the wholesale displacement of on-premise email environments with the LotusLive iNotes offering.  Rather, IBM wants you to look at all of those so-called "boundary" or "task" workers that have very basic email needs and are actually over-served by a full client on their desktops. 

My wife is actually a perfect example of this type of worker.  She is a community health nurse.  Her work day life does not revolve around email and scheduling meetings with coworkers.  She is in the field during the day at her patients' homes, and she only checks emails for communication from her employer.  Frankly, email is a pain for her because it isn't available to her except when she is in the office.

LotusLive iNotes is perfect for these types of users in your organization.  At $24 a user, that's less than even the annual license subscription costs of a Lotus Notes license.  When you look at the total cost of ownership for an average on-premise email user, the savings in switching to LotusLive iNotes add up quickly.

Many organizations don't know what their actual total cost of ownership is per user for their on-premise email usage.  For that reason, Ted Schadler from Forrester Research recently put together the cost model below which shows the monthly cost per user, and breaks it apart into different user types.

Calculating the fully loaded costs of corporate email: It's bigger than you think, Ted Schadler,

So the average annual fully loaded cost of email for an Occasional User, the true target for LotusLive iNotes, is $249.96.  Subtract the $24 a user LotusLive iNotes fee from that, and you have an average savings of $225.96 per user.  Assume that in an average 1,000 person company, 30% of users (300) are occasional users.  That would total $67,788 in savings annually by moving those users to LotusLive iNotes.  Obviously, mileage will vary, but the savings are potentially significant enough that it is worth your time examining the user population in your organization to find out the size of the "Occasional User" community.

But clearly you don't want to have two islands of email users.  That's the beauty of the "hybrid" model IBM is encouraging here.  Keep your premise deployment for your executives and information workers, move the occasional users to the cloud, and integrate the two environments.  With LotusLive iNotes, you can integrate your two environments, allowing for:
  • integrated corporate directory 
  • single-sign-on for LotusLive iNotes users
  • shared mail domain
  • even integration with your existing archiving or other dlp systems deployed at your location
 After getting over the initial feature-shock, I've really come to appreciate this approach by IBM.  One size never fits all, and LotusLive iNotes has a clear purpose and does what it is intended to do well, all while providing significant savings to an organization.  How many more IT projects could you fund with the savings you'd achieve?