Ambuj Goyal took over as general manager of IBMs Lotus Software Division a year ago this month. Since then Goyal has guided Lotus through the launch of its new Workplace platform while restoring customers and partners faith in the division, in doing so, reestablishing IBMs commitment to Lotus core Domino and Notes products. Goyal sat down with eWEEK Senior Writer Dennis Callaghan in December to discuss the year past and ahead.
eWEEK: Youve been GM of Lotus for just about a year now. Tell me about how your first year went. What were your impressions of the group and its customers and the technology? What do you think you accomplished this year?
Goyal: First of all, I feel that Lotuss customers are extremely and are really excited about what Lotus has to offer. I found that they were looking for a direction from us—where Lotus is going—and what they can look for in terms of new products coming out and how they can move to the next plateau in collaboration.
Today they are no longer [asking that] because they are feeling comfortable that we are taking them to the next level while protecting their existing investments.
So what do I mean by the next plateau? This is the most satisfactory part of what I feel that we have accomplished at Lotus as a business. Lotus has been the key innovator in people-oriented technologies, Lotus invented teamware and groupware. This was about ad hoc collaboration. We wanted to take [customers] from team productivity to organizational productivity. For example, if you are doing an auditing job, today you attach documents in e-mail and send them out. And then somebody prints it and says, OK, everything is OK. And then you find it and say things are audit complete.
What they would like to do is to take this collaborative infrastructure and implement a people-oriented process in the context of that business.
So now we are taking ad hoc collaboration to organized collaboration. Not that we are abandoning team-oriented collaboration, thats very popular and people love it. But were moving it to not only business controls, were moving it to claims processing, event management, retail associates management, store management, consumer product groups management, customer care management, procurement, in the context of real business. And people are starting to understand that as we are offering more offerings in this space.
eWEEK: You announced the Workplace platform almost a year ago now as well. What sort of traction or acceptance in the marketplace have you seen?
Goyal: Oh theres been tremendous acceptance. First of all, there are people in the marketplace who are standardizing on open standards—J2EE, XML, Web services, LDAP, SQL. And they wanted collaboration in the context of whatever they had done. They had done a portal or they had done a J2EE application. An ISV may have done a packaged application. They want collaboration in that context.
So Workplace is a family of products which is open-standards based. So people coming from the open standards world can get collaboration in context of what they are doing. Workplace is also a set of organizational productivity offerings like business controls and reporting or case management subjects approval or customer care. Workplace is a set of business oriented offerings as well.
eWEEK: Is Workplace attracting new customers to Lotus?