Lotus Connections: Will IBM Ever Win The Application Software Game?

IBM is spending a lot of money on Lotus Connections. Will the effort pay off? Will IBM be successful?

Answer is: Most likely not!

IBM is starting in the social networking application software game late and has a history of failure after failure when it comes to software. I am old enough to remember a few of them. Maybe you can add to the list.

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1) e-Mail. Remember PROFS? Even though it was mainframe based and green screen, I loved PROFS. I used to travel all over the world, and I was amazed how easy it was to retrieve my e-mails, using any terminal at any of my company’s office locations. PROFS had the backbone infrastructure to deliver e-mails anywhere but when the GUI e-mail arrived, IBM did not respond and everyone switched. It took about 20 years for the new PC-based GUI e-mail to reliably provide the same capability that I had with PROFS. If IBM had added a PC GUI front-end to PROFS, I know we would be using PROFS up to today.

2) ERP. I still cannot believe how IBM lost this market to SAP and Oracle. IBM had several ERP systems. I remember two very well. COPICS and MAPICS, which by the way were the inspiration for SAP to develop their product. Why IBM did not use their vast resources to keep these applications up-to-date is a mystery to me.

3) Database. Should I try to understand why Oracle — and not IBM — is the owner of the high-end database market?

4) PC OS. How did Microsoft, a small company at the time, and sponsored by IBM, win the PC OS market? I remember an interview that Bill Gates gave at the time Microsoft departed from its IBM relationship. He simply said: IBM has the wrong strategy.

Does IBM have the right strategy now?