Lotus Tailors Program to ISVs

Recognizing Independent Software Providers (ISVs) as a distinct breed of business partner, Lotus Development Corp. (Cambridge, Mass.) has launched an ISV program designed to raise the visibility of Lotus ISV solutions. The company promises to accomplish this greater visibility through an enhanced product certification program, tie-ins to industry solutions groups and a Web-based solutions catalog.

The new Lotus ISV Program creates a software provider niche not present in the company's existing system, which consists of seven tracks, according to Steve Calvin, Lotus ISV program manager of worldwide business partners programs. Although the developer track covered ISVs, it was much more general, addressing anyone who did development products around Lotus products, particularly Domino. "On the one hand, you'd have a developer who had a 100-percent shrink-wrapped product, but then you'd also have people who go into a customer site and build products, and they called themselves developers as well," he says.

What Lotus had been hearing over the past couple of years from the "true ISVs" -- those who develop complete products that are licensed and have support and documentation -- was that the company was not truly addressing the needs of ISVs, according to Calvin. Lotus extends its definition of ISV beyond those developers who offer strictly out-of-the-box solutions, primarily due to the nature of Lotus products, which address messaging, infrastructure and workflow. The definition Calvin has developed for an ISV is "a business partner that's developed a commercial application that runs or integrates with a Lotus product and is 70 percent consistent or repeatable from site to site."

Whereas Lotus has approximately 3,000 partners in the developer track, Calvin expects to have between 1,000 and 1,500 in the ISV program. Lotus is also working with IBM's Solution Developers Marketing (SDM) organization to drive sales for Lotus ISVs. "Some of the business partners [SDM] is working with today really would find that they want to join the program," he says.

Thanks in part to the success of Domino on the AS/400, Lotus has found its coverage in the AS/400 market expanding rapidly. Lotus went live on June 8 with a Web site that contains online information about Lotus Partner Software Solutions. From this site (www.lotus.com/home.nsf/welcome/partners), a search can be performed based upon 12 different criteria, including operating system. Calvin points out that of the 19 solutions developers referenced on the site so far, 13 are indexed on a search for OS/400-compatible products.

In addition to the Partner Software Solutions site, the Lotus ISV Program includes a worldwide series of "Go-to-Market" workshops, the Lotus "Go-to-Market Strategy Guide" for ISVs and extended channel partnering.

--L. Greenemeier