Lotus announces it will restructure

InfoWorld |  Software

LOTUS DEVELOPMENT IS being restructured, with the bulk of the reorganization due to occur this quarter, a company official confirmed Friday.

Details of the reorganization were not provided, and will not be until the company's annual U.S. user conference, Lotusphere, the week of Jan. 14 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., according to Mary Rose Greenough, director of worldwide public relations for the Cambridge, Mass.-based software maker.

The company management team decided that because of "evolving market needs " and to "enhance performance" and meet customer demand, Lotus should be restructured, Greenough said. The bulk of the changes will occur this quarter.

News of the restructuring was provided to Lotus employees worldwide in an e-mail Thursday from company CEO and President Al Zollar, according to sources close to the company. Zollar is a long-time employee of IBM, which owns Lotus.

Zollar took over the Lotus helm a year ago on Feb. 1 when Jeffrey Papows resigned. Zollar's first major public appearance after being named to the job was at Lotusphere 2000, a few weeks before he took charge.

In a speech then, Zollar tried to assure Lotusphere attendees that the company was not about to drastically change under his leadership. "I want to answer that for what I hope will be the last time with a simple but resounding, 'No, it isn't,'" he said.

But speculation has been rampant since then that Lotus would be absorbed fully into IBM and lose its brand identity.

"Lotus will continue to have dedicated sales development, marketing, and service in support of the Lotus business and brand," Greenough said Friday. She emphasized that remark was the most important aspect of what the company had to say right now and that the Lotus brand will be preserved.

Apparently, Lotus is not going to say much more for a while. The e-mail Zollar sent to employees is being kept internal and details of the restructuring will not be provided until Lotusphere.

"Al will address this issue, I'm sure," at Lotusphere, Greenough said.

The company's top executive usually handles the show's opening keynote address, but Zollar will also discuss the matter during a news conference with reporters on Tuesday, Jan. 16, Greenough said, adding, "that will be topic No. 1."

IBM acquired Lotus in 1995 and largely had a hands-off approach to its operation. But industry observers started to notice a couple of years ago that approach was changing, with much more emphasis being placed on Lotus as an IBM company.

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