Huge migration in slow motion

by Volker Weber

Procter & Gamble is trying something I've never seen before: A slow migration from Notes to Outlook & Co.

As part of that broad effort, P&G is introducing a set of desktop applications to foster real-time collaboration among its worldwide workforce of more than 100,000 people and with its vast network of customers and partners. The rollout consists mainly of five Microsoft products-the Office 2003 desktop suite, Outlook E-mail client, Communicator instant-messaging software, Live Meeting conferencing service, and SharePoint document-sharing portal-plus Windows Server 2003 and other server software. The deal represents the largest license to date of Microsoft's real-time collaboration suite (Communicator 2005, Live Meeting 2005, and upgraded Live Communications Server 2005), introduced in March.

The Microsoft apps are intended to replace Lotus Notes on the company's 80,000 Windows PCs, plus 12,000 more Windows PCs that are part of P&G's $57 billion acquisition of Gillette, which closed Oct. 1. "Intended" because Global Business Services isn't forcing the issue (not just yet, anyway). "We don't have big deployment milestones in people and dates, which is the old way," says Laurie Heltsley, a director with Global Business Services. "We're talking about an adoption strategy where people can opt in."

Company officials project that 80% of PCs will be upgraded to the new tools by sometime next year, driven by what they expect will be employee enthusiasm for an integrated suite of contemporary desktop apps.

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Darn, gotta call those P&G folks and sell them some CoexLinks.

Ben Langhinrichs, 2005-11-18

I can't speak for what they're like now, but I know that 15 years ago I went down and spent a couple of weeks learning P&G's IT system and infrastructure and they were amazing. P&G had put real value on IT for decades (and openly boasted about having the first commercial telegraph in use between HQ and a soap factory "outside" of town). It showed. It was a group of proud employees with tremendous skills and incredibly well integrated projects.

I hope they're still that way. There must be someone out there who is.

Andrew Pollack, 2005-11-18

Hm, sounds like an interesting concept. Too many IT projects neglect the factor of user acceptance and technology diffusion influences. But how is the practical outcome of this? Team members of dispersed teams need to collaborate so they have to pay attention to the used collaboration platform when recruiting team members? "Hm, you're on {Microsoft|Lotus}, we can't have you on our team." There are certain advantages in corporate standards...
Well, could be, of course, that they are reading, Ben is making a fortune soon and everything will be working together nicely. :-)

Ragnar Schierholz, 2005-11-18

So they're investing even more money in a company and operating system that hasn't delivered any innovation in the last 10 years and only promises further technology lock-in. While the rest of the world embraces open source software, Linux and moves forward into a new era. All the best with that remarkable strategy, I say.

Justin Freeman, 2005-11-18

They'll have 80% upgraded, alright. Upgraded to using BOTH.

Tom Nichols, 2005-11-18

Not to be mean, but if this approach really seems that revolutionary, you need to get out more. Most of the companies I deal with plan long migrations along these lines. Most of them are aware that the transition is difficult for both technical and social reasons, and act accordingly. Most of them do it quietly, without press, and without bringing in outside help, which is why it doesn't make news, and those who live in the consulting world may not hear about it. But it really is a daily occurrence.

I would suspect that there are an equal amount of MS shops converting to Notes, I just don't see those in my town.

Dave Armstrong, 2005-11-18

Dave, you may be right. I only see it from the consulting view and there you get to relatively quick migrations, of course after a lot of preparation.

Volker Weber, 2005-11-18

I am curious why they lost the account after all these years. P&G was so protected by LPS (ISSL now or IBM GLobal Services) that no one else was allowed in to help grow and maintain the environment.

Plus the amount of consulting money that was paid to Lotus Professional Services to have this huge turn is astounding to watch.

I believe P&G was even on a panel of beta people for Domino 6 at Lotusphere years ago to show these large enterprises moving ahead

Chris Miller, 2005-11-18

I'm not sure what I can or cannot say about the conversion publicly, but I'm certain that one factor is that actually Hewlett-Packard has managed P&G's Notes deployment for years. The discussions about them moving away from Notes have gone on for years, too.

Ed Brill, 2005-11-18

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