RIM will unveil Lotus-branded Connections social software on all of its Blackberry devices starting with the Curve this year. Lotus Connections is IBM’s social networking platform for business that was unveiled at last year’s show.
IBM approached RIM more than a year ago about the social networking possibilities for Blackberry devices.
“We realized that a mobile client is important and we have mutual customers and more and more folks in organizations are becoming mobile by definition,” said David Heit, director, product management for RIM. “The demand over time is to have more access to more capability.”
The problem is that, in the market currently, mobile users are inundated with e-mail, Heit added. During a work day email correspondence can lead to more than 400 e-mails being sent and received. Lotus Connections brings another way to collaborate, linking into a community of users where they can discuss topics on the fly and share data.
“I view this as an important step in how we evolve with one another,” Heit said. “E-mail is not dead, but how do I supplement it in a business context will be the new question.”
Tom Papagiannopolis, Lotus brand executive for IBM Software, based in Winnipeg, said with Lotus Connections and the RIM Blackberry device you now have the ability to be part of a community and be mobile.
“You don’t have to deal with 400 e-mails a day. You can post information and you do not have to be touched hundreds of times,” Papagiannopoulos said.Heit believes that this joint solution will end up growing channel business for long time partners of IBM.
“This is a complex space for the channel. When RIM was 400 people or so we still had a fairly integrated solution with software and the device. When people bought into RIM, they bought a total solution,” Heit said.
The initial channel model was RIM would OEM it to the carrier providers. As the business grew for RIM, a lot of other channels became interested and the company formed distribution relationships with the likes of Ingram Micro Canada.
“What we found was that VARs and SIs had exclusive relationships with companies such as IBM and the carriers. They brought it all together,” he said.
Today, RIM has a multi-distribution channel model where VARs have risen in importance.
At the show, for example, solution providers such as ISEC7 out of Hamburg, Germany has developed a monitoring and management solution, called B*Nator, for the Blackberry that enables remote access to Blackberry smartphones.
Trevor Nimegeers, the president of CEO of Calgary-based solution provider Kryos Systems, believes the RIM/IBM partnership with Lotus Connections is a good move for the channel. Kryos has strategic partnership with both companies.
“We look at it as a way to build our business from a collaboration perspective, from Notes and the Domino portal to Sametime. It is a very good offering and therefore we want to get deeper into the tools. We are believers in using the tools as they can bolster our offering to the customers,” Nimegeers said.