My article why IBM should retire the Lotus brand

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Yesterday I posted on the announcement made in the UKLUG keynote address by Ted Stanton on the sunsetting of brands (not products) in the IBM naming world.  Earlier in the year I had written an article for publication that I am providing following this news coming true.

In the first week of February 2011, the annual Lotusphere conference by IBM was held in Orlando, FL. Each year a new theme is launched to drive the flow around the conference as new products are announced and futures discussed. The theme for 2011 from IBM/Lotus was Social Business

IBM/Lotus entered the realm of social business about two years ago by placing social networking into the enterprise with Lotus Connections. They soon became self proclaimed, and known to some, as an industry leader in this space.  With the recent release of Connections 3.0, they have made a strong statement.

However, the stigma of the name Lotus hangs heavy. It carries with it 20 years of weight from Lotus Notes and the nagging thought of the old 1-2-3 anytime you say Lotus.  So how would IBM break away, while moving forward the implementations of such products as Connections, Portal and and freshly remodeled and painted Notes?  Removing the Lotus moniker is a first step in that transition.

In no way am I hinting or saying that the actual products under the Lotus banner would be retired.  Simply the Lotus portion of the name itself. They have begun this movement years ago by placing IBM at the head of each product name. Many have been cross branded for some time, such as IBM Lotus Sametime.  Removing the Lotus from the middle is not a trivial task. Nor should IBM treat this decision lightly.

Back at Lotusphere, Social Business was pushed into everyone's minds as soon as the Opening General Session kicked off. while many still sit at companies globally wondering how this affects their email and applications based on Lotus Notes, even the sales reps are being told to push this initiative. The link for Social Business does take you to a Lotus branded URL, but one of the main links announces the IBM Social Collaboration Platform and the just completed IBM Social Business Jam

This new initiative focuses around social analytics, tracking, enhanced customer and web experiences and platforms to deploy these solutions.  All based on a collection of IBM software properties.  From this alone is makes perfect sense for IBM to bring these all together as one brand face and name, much like Cognos was brought into the IBM banner.

Since Lotusphere both the products Connections and Sametime have had the Lotus name removed from the product marketing.  While we do still the the name Lotus in the actual installed product in some places, new efforts will not show it when making future announcements and marketing.

IBM held massive press events last year around Project Northstar.  Their first move of taking software like Websphere Portal and making it the foundation for the IBM Customer Experience Suite.    I blogged extensively on Project Northstar  and during the launch.  While much of the press was there, the splash was not made.

Where does this leave Lotus in the new IBM picture?  As a name that held strength in the enterprise messaging and application platform space.  As a name that still haunts many people as a horrid experience because they were stuck on older versions or never experienced the full customer experience.  As a name to soon be retired, it's jersey hung in the banners and all the awards placed high on the IBM trophy case as an acquired, assimilated and merged product line in the IBM behemoth.  Goodbye Lotus brand name. Hello IBM collaboration.