The massive base of Lotus developers, integrators and value added resellers, may well be one of the IT industry's best kept secrets. But it won't be for long.
Mike Shanahan, Lotus' Australian managing director, told the 290 delegates at the Lotus PartnerConnect '97 conference that Lotus would now actively promote the fact that its partners were one of the company's key strengths.
He conceded it had not pushed that message enough in the past.
That's something of an understatement. Lotus has 17,500 business partners worldwide and 310 in Australia, who have developed around 11,000 Notes/Domino applications. That makes Lotus more of an out-of-the-box solution than any of its competitors. Novell, Netscape and Microsoft, for example, have all received limited ISV support for their groupware/Intranet platforms.
Yet those same competitors have managed to create a perception in the market that Lotus is a complex, difficult-to-program application framework. If you want to make the most of Notes, they have argued, you need to hire expensive Notes/Domino programmers to custom-build your application. The reality is, though, through Lotus' business partners most users' will find solutions for their needs in the shape of shrink-wrapped, out-of-the-box Domino applications.
The first campaign to demonstrate this will be Intranet in a Box, a Domino-based solution that also bundles five Notes, Microsoft Explorer and Netscape Navigator clients as well as training vouchers and support coupons. It will cost $2495.
According to Lotus' marketing manager/director Michael Ossipoff, however, the company will extend this concept later in the year to bundle third-party applications with similar Domino packages. He suggested products like Help Desk in a Box or ISO 9000 in a Box might be sold through the likes of Harvey Norman.
Nick Fish, managing director of FishTech (which develops electronic commerce applications that run on top of Domino), and Gary Marshall, managing director of ecCentric (creator of a Domino-based EDI package), welcomed the increased Lotus emphasis on its partners.
"In the past, Lotus has attempted to lift customer awareness of the technology, I think now it's time to lift the awareness of Domino as a solution," Fish said.