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February 22, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

IBM’s Lotus Development Corp is planning a worldwide initiative to target users of rival messaging software and convert them to Lotus cc:Mail. The market is a tough one, says Francois Devoret, Director EMEA, currently only 5% of Lotus users are migrants from other systems. But with 10 to 13 million seats to migrate worldwide it is a market worth going for; Devoret estimates the market to be worth in excess of $100 annually for software plus services. Lotus’ strategy is to mobilize existing players in the market such as software tools vendors and service providers who already help users migrate. Lotus is putting together a package of migration tools by combining its own tools and those of a number of other vendors through business alliances and now supports a total of 14 platforms. The plan is then to provide training for services companies to use the package and help target customers. Devoret says Lotus has already trained 35 services companies and plans to extend this to 100 by the end of the year. However, Lotus does not intend its involvement to end there. Lotus will help set up specialized sales teams and marketing programs through partnerships and alliances and then will rent the tools the companies need to migrate users. The rental pricing model will help keep a track of how long the migrations are taking, says Devoret, which will allow assessment of the both the service provider and the software tools they use. The idea is, as Devoret puts it, to industrialize the process of migration. The reason for the initiative is something Devoret is less clear about. Admitting the market is highly saturated, Devoret says if Lotus is to continue its sales growth, it cannot rely on new users alone. Further details about Lotus’ plans are expected to be released in a few weeks in an official announcement.

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