Seems like Microsoft has the same challenges IBM/Lotus does (but understands some opportunities better)...
Mary Jo Foley had a great article a few days back titled What's keeping the Microsoft beancounters awake at night? In the article, she goes a little deeper into Microsoft's latest earnings report and outlines some interesting "challenges" that the company seems to be facing:
A source of mine passed on to me some information that seems to come from Microsoft’s own scorecarding system from the end of 2010 that detailed some high priority areas for Microsoft’s sales and marketing folks. Not too surprisingly — in spite of all the public noise around the company’s consumer products — enterprise wares (which still result in the majority of Microsoft revenues) are getting a lot of internal attention.
Yes, Microsoft’s Business Division (the Office team) had a bang-up Q2 FY2011, as the most recent earnings statement made clear. But according to the scorecarding information I saw — which, as some have reminded me, is a small sample from inside the company, and not true of all regions — some Microsoft managers consider Exchange’s license and revenue growth over the last several years to be “anemic,” even though Exchange is currently a $2 billion business.
Depending on what analyst group you listen to, Lotus has either lost market share or held even with Microsoft. So email for email's sake would seem to be an anemic market overall. It would also seem to point to the fact that email is getting to be a commodity service, and switching email "just to be on Exchange and Outlook" may not be the main driver. It could be that SharePoint is a significant reason for moving stacks, but even that isn't necessarily all rosy:
On the SharePoint front, the public story is that sales continue to be phenomenal, with more than 100 million SharePoint licenses having been sold to 17,000 customers. However, internally some managers are warning that the sales focus on servers has been low “because revenue-based incentive compensation does not reward selling relatively low-priced servers.
Hmm... sales teams not pushing the "cheap" solution because their incentive programs don't reward that... sound familiar? *cough*Notes*cough*Domino*cough*
And as far as understanding opportunities better, this following snippet seems to confirm and align with what many of us think when it comes to opportunities in the educational market:
(If you’re wondering about Microsoft’s hard-core push to sell Exchange Online and to win education accounts over to online services, slower Exchange Server growth is seemingly at least part of the reason. Microsoft execs view education as a key early adopter of cloud-based services, and e-mail is “the gateway application” for schools.)
If you accept that view, things do not bode well for IBM/Lotus. Microsoft is structured to provide their gateway "drug" to educational markets for no cost, and IBM/Lotus is not (nor does it look like they will do so in the foreseeable future based on actions to date).
Having been on both sides of the email/collaboration battlefield, I see that at a macro level there are more similarities than differences between Microsoft and IBM when it comes to how the collaboration stories have unfolded. The technical details vary, but it's still a matter of trying to change the culture of the workplace. And at least in my experience, that's far easier said than done... regardless of what brand of software you're using.