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What do Apple, Twitter and Facebook all have in common?


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IBM is doing some interesting things to blur the line between consumer and business computing and the pace they are moving at has accelerated like a Mad Max roadster on nitro.  In the past year they have joined forces with Twitter, Facebook, and most notably, Apple.  The partnerships all bring together complimentary products and services. The venture with Apple, in particular, is worth paying attention to. Apple has virtually no formal enterprise solutions, yet they still dominate the business world with mobile devices. IBM on the other hand, has MobileFirst, their set of mobile solutions for business.  Meanwhile, IBM  has no mobile or desktop hardware and OS, so it must rely on other vendors to provide that foundation. Combining the solutions from Apple and IBM makes for a compelling case against against Microsoft and Google. The one partnership that seems to be missing is LinkedIn.

Add to these partnerships with consumer-focused companies, IBM is doing some consumer focus of its own. They have just released IBM Verse, a new online email application intended to compete with the likes of Hotmail and Gmail, at least to get consumer adoption, with the intentions that it will become the first choice for business too.  While Verse is in the early stages, a steady stream of features are being added on a weekly or monthly basis.
All of these signs lead me to believe that after all these years of analysts and business partners urging and pleading, IBM finally recognizes that it needs to win the consumer first in order to win the business.
They have stepped up their marketing efforts at the same time, which is a treat for business partners.  Who knew that for several years now IBM has posted the largest revenue of  cloud services? (even over Amazon Web Services)
Yes, they still have work to do in marketing their web services.  Often I give demonstrations of IBM Connections Cloud, an ecosystem of software services comparable to Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Work, and I always get several people in the group asking “Why are they keeping this a secret?”

One final step IBM is taking is in making their solutions more attractive to small business, not just enterprise-scale organizations. Their solutions make a powerful case for businesses of all sizes now. I think the next year is going to be game-changing for IBM.  The surveys from 3 years ago are actually proving out.  IBM is proving why it was named one of the Four Horsemen of technology companies.

IBM partners with Twitter
IBM partners with Facebook
IBM expands partnership with Apple

IBM’s next generation cloud email solution is coming to CONSUMERS for FREE!


Last week IBM provided a glimpse into their next innovation in email.  Code-named MailNext, it is now formally named Verse.  This is the next evolution of Connections Cloud, their enterprise cloud suite of software.
Now, just a week later, IBM has announced plans to make Verse available to CONSUMERS for FREE!!!
This is unprecedented by IBM.  First, this is the first time IBM has targeted consumers rather than businesses.  Second, the price is right to attract users to experience the new concept in messaging.  Free.  A brilliant strategy to finally take an aggressive action toward marketing their product by first winning over their market as individuals and then as businesses.

Long ago Microsoft did this by including Outlook with every operating system. Consumers used that interface to use POP to access their personal email accounts.  Familiarity at the consumer level made it easy for businesses to be persuaded to use it along with Exchange server for an enterprise messaging system.  Then Google repeated this successful recipe to build a strong consumer base before diving into the enterprise messaging marketplace.

Now IBM is going to apply the same formula.  Unlike Google however, IBM is not going to turn consumers directly into profit like Google does with their advertising and scanning of email.  They will be targeting Businesses to provide the revenue.

The beauty of this formula is simple.  Email is the software equivalent of a Gateway drug into the collaboration software market. And IBM intends to get you addicted to theirs.  In this case, those hardcore drugs are IBM’s collaboration software suite:  Connections (team, B2B and B2C tools for file sharing, activities, wikis, blogs, forums, surveys, & more);  Sametime Instant Messaging, video, audio, web conferencing, and Notes & Domino.  And IBM is taking the same approach as the State of Washington, making their gateway drug very accessible and affordable to everyone.

I have to wonder if this isn’t at least partially driven by IBM’s new partnership with Apple who has proven how successful consumer loyalty can be.  Many of us who work with the IBM technology and understand how much more powerful it is than the competitive products have long blasted IBM for shunning the consumer market. I have often thought one of their biggest mistakes was separating the application designer tools from the Lotus Notes client which took away the power for end users to apply their own energy to create the custom applications they needed. At that point in time they disarmed their greatest allies and advocates of the software.  It looks like the giant has finally awoken and recognizes the power that the individual has on the choice of software in the workplace.  I am anxious to see what this new evolution will do for improving our productivity in the most widely used software category in the world. How do you think this will impact the landscape of the collaboration software market?  Want to see for yourself? Pre-register here.

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