IBM Lotus Soars Under Departing GM

Mike Rhodin leaves behind a strong legacy for IBM's collaboration software unit, which posted 17 percent year-over-year sales growth in the first quarter.

IBM quietly promoted Lotus Software Group General Manager Mike Rhodin two weeks before his division reported a 17 percent year-over-year increase in first-quarter earnings April 16.

An IBM spokesperson told eWEEK that the Armonk, N.Y., company made the change April 1, handing over the Lotus reins to Bob Picciano, previously vice president of worldwide information management sales for IBM.

Rhodin will help Picciano in the transition before assuming responsibility for IBM software, hardware and services sales in Northern Europe July 1.

Rhodin, who discussed IBM's increased focus on UCC (unified communications and collaboration) with eWEEK, leaves Lotus on solid ground in the face of increasing competition from Microsoft's Office and SharePoint tools and Google's Apps suite.

Ovum Research analyst Steve Hodgkinson wrote April 3 that since Rhodin took the helm in 2005, Lotus has sported 13 (14, as of April 16) consecutive quarters of growth in a multibillion-dollar market for workplace collaboration software.

The Lotus Notes and Domino customer base rose from 118 million to 140 million, while the Lotus Sametime instant messaging and Web conferencing client grew from 13 million to 100 million users.

IBM offers a sneak peek at the next Lotus version. Check it out.

"Rhodin has put in a good stint at the Lotus Software Group, presiding over a significant turnaround in the fortunes of what was an ailing brand when he took over in 2005," Hodgkinson wrote.

"Lotus was muddling along sideways (and downwards in the eyes of many users-even Lotus fans) in the early part of the millennium and suffering under the confusing IBM Workplace positioning and the long-awaited refresh of the core Notes platform."