Are we feeling all excited yet?

by Volker Weber


It was at DNUG in Berlin, when a partner asked Lotus GM Alistair Rennie, what he should do when he had a hard time selling a Domino solution. Alistair's answer was clear and convincing: tell your customer, it is an IBM solution. There were "Lotus knows" banners everywhere, but one could see the change coming. In 4Q10 WPLC was renamed Collaboration Solutions, and that name became more visible at Lotusphere.

Lotus as a brand is being deprecated, IBM pushed forward. But hey, that's just rebranding. It is expensive, it takes quite an effort, and your friends notice first. Somebody who works with his Notes client day in and out and hates, hates, hates it, won't notice. And if he did, he could not care less.

IBM is going to push forward with Connections and Sametime. Connections is still somewhat unique, but Sametime has very strong competition. I believe, and I am sure that people will jump all over me, that Notes will have to play defense. I know a huge pipeline of customers evaluating their commitment, and that pipeline is getting longer. We will see more of the Abbott Labs, Bayer, Daimler, Miele etc. moves.

The best thing that IBM can do is to convince customers that they have the tools for the future of what IBM calls "Social Business". (You did notice that the term 'Social Business' means something else to the rest of the world?) That success is not a given. In this country companies are not yet sold on "the cloud" and even less so on "enterprise 2.0/social business". I am sometimes involved in these discussions and pilots often end up as "Wohlfühlprojekte", which means you do them if you have time and money to burn.

The most convincing argument I heard last week was from Uffe Sorensen, who said: "Nobody did ROI on email. It's an essential tool. If you do ROI on social software, you will come up equally empty-handed. Your employees will have a social network. The only question is whether you own it, or somebody else."

PS: Please, please, please, can you do away with these ghastly orange/yellow icons now that you no longer have to be yellow?



ROI will not, I believe, work with social. However, there are metrics that can be measured. Some more analytical than "number of tweets" or "number of blog posts." I highly recommend that for people that are tasked with "social," are in marketing, or want to know more about this, read Wikibrands.

I think that it does a great job of answering some of the questions, especially "why."

Gregg Eldred, 2011-02-08

I think Uffe scored 10. We are all social now. Whether we like it or not. And the difference is who owns the network and the content, cause he rules now.

goran angelov, 2011-02-08

We’ve seen this movie before.

Jeff Gilfelt, 2011-02-08

Making social features available to your employees is the current equivalent to making sure they have a phone in the 70s/80s and email in the 90s/00s. It's the new "dial tone", you just expect it to be there. Then again, people who have only used mobile phones don't know what a dial tone is!

Alan Lepofsky, 2011-02-09

Alan, trust me, there are some companies in Germany who runs quite successfully without social features. IBM was displaying a statistic that said something like "57% of companies that embrace social media are more successful". That probably means the other other 43% are less successful.

Volker Weber, 2011-02-09

The quoted 57% of companies that embrace social media are quite possibly more successful not because they embrace social media, but more successful because they concentrate on motivating their employees and listening to their customers (and therefore they embrace social media).

Cause and effect is implied in that statistic in a way that doesn't even begin to convince me.

And, anyway, only 57%? Hardly earth-shattering.

(And, anyway, 78.4% of statistics are totally made up. And this is 83.9% likely to be one of them.)

Julian Woodward, 2011-02-09

Humbugs! Go with the flow!


Garry Lees, 2011-02-09

@vowe, @Julian - here you go:

IBM's recent study of 700 global chief human resource officers found that financial outperformers are 57 percent more likely than underperformers to use collaborative and social-networking tools to enable global teams to work more effectively together. The study also showed that 21 percent of companies have recently increased the amount they invest in the collaboration tools and analytics despite the economic downturn.

I found it in this eWeek slideshow.

Gregg Eldred, 2011-02-09

For IBM to:

- bring these products under their brand, risking tarnish of their own image

- involve as much top-level IBM management as they have in this strategy

- continue to pump gobs of resources in this direction

I can ensure you that they have done a LOT of market research. There is always the chance that it won't work. But I bet it will.

I predict that Notes Next will shed the last apparent vestiges of what "Old Lotus Notes" looked like. I predict that it will have an Eclipse/browser front-end and XPages-driven stuff that looks like Facebook-for-business ala Vulcan screenshots. It will be called IBM (something) but not "IBM Notes."

As a result the guy who hates Notes today will run it and think it's a new piece of software. Different name, different vendor, different look and feel. A chance to start over. It'll run all those "legacy" Notes apps, too, but the new stuff will likely feel modern and awesome.

Erik Brooks, 2011-02-09

A lot of customers are evaluating their commitment. I agree. How many want to leave Lotus because it is named Lotus not IBM?
Now as long as IBM does not change their strategy customers will leave no matter if it is named IBM or Lotus. For IBM it does not matter much. They already announced that they are going to support at least Microsoft.

Henning Heinz, 2011-02-09

The “guy who hates Notes today” often does so because his IT department still insist on running Notes 6.x with an R5 mail template. I doubt these outfits will be rushing to embrace the latest and greatest from IBM, especially if it’s Eclipse-based (and therefore requires sixteen dual cores and 92GB RAM).

Ben Poole, 2011-02-09

Erik, how about IBM Workplace? IBM loves Workplace.

Notes 8 became available four years ago. I have one customer who is building an image right now and will deploy later this year. Their mail template was introduced eight years ago. At this pace they will get Workplace in 2016. The more likely scenario is that they will have moved to a competing solution for email and are keeping that 8.5 install for legacy apps. And they will of course resort to "basic configuration" by then.

Volker Weber, 2011-02-09

I don't see why a "IBM solution" should be any better than a "Lotus solution". Lotus used to stand for an affordable, easy to administer solution with great development capabilities. IBM is complicated, inflexible and extra-expensive.

Thilo Hamberger, 2011-02-09


The issue isn't the product, its the Lotus name that has negative connotations in some peoples minds.

You're somewhat right in respect of IBM tending to be complicated. I am just hoping that whatever they call Notes/Domino going forward that you will still be able to buy just them and not as some embedded application in Websphere.

Garry Lees, 2011-02-09

@Volker - I think your last comment is right on the money.

It seems to me that IBM Connections is going to become the 'client' for email and XPage applications with Notes being kept for traditional Notes applications and maybe as a RRAD tool. I see Notes being 'retired' (deprecated) gently in this respect and hope we can all allow that to happen with some grace.

Ian Scott, 2011-02-09

@Vowe - Yeah, I considered "Workplace" a possible name. Though I doubt they'll choose to reuse that name again.

By 2016 nobody will be building new legacy Notes apps (actually this may be the case by 2012.) XPages will be the dominant RADD tool.

The problem with Workplace was that it was an island without a bridge. Good technology with no core RADD capabilities and no deployment to NSF. And without NSF you're pretty much ensured to NOT be RADD.

Now that there *is* a bridge, it would be simple for the "thick" client to get a lot thinner. By 2016 I'll bet that "legacy" pieces like Lotuscript, old-school forms, etc. will be an optional install on the thick client. Ideally all of the out-of-the-box templates would be XPages-driven, and by that point the bulk of the RADD toolbox will be fully finished on XPages.

Perhaps the new client will be called "IBM Connections" and will be similar to current Connections but will have install options for legacy Notes stuff?

On the plus side, if your client's still around by 2016 their hardware should have no problem running a thick client. :-)

Erik Brooks, 2011-02-09

Stop hitting me with that buzzword stick. Nobody talks about "RAD" anymore, that is 90s terminology. And yes, the client will still be around. Not necessarily around Notes though. To mitigate the problem they have long stopped new app development on the platform. You can pull that "you cannot migrate away from Notes" trick only once.

Volker Weber, 2011-02-09

No RAD without nsf!? We have 2011 now.
And of course IBM Lotus Component Designer looked so much different.
Maybe one should really ask for the number of seats on Passport Advantage maintenance because those are probably the only one that can use XPages. And then compare this number to the 150 mio+ seats that are mentioned in the yellow bubble.
I don't doubt that by 2016 XPages will be the dominant development platform because it is a forced migration. Take is or leave it.
The installed base might be a lot less in 2016 than today.
The so called modern XPages technology is an extension of JSF 1.1 dated 2004-05-27 (latest release JSF 2.0 dated 2009-06-28) with some patches from 1.2 and 2.0.
I think it supports servlet technology 2.4 dated November 2004 (current is 3.0 from December 2009).
I don't want to say that XPages are bad but the world is not waiting for Xpages. It is one technology out of many and with the new approach it has even lost the advantage of supporting the browser and a rich client.
What surprises me most that even with near zero announcements at Lotusphere 2011 IBM is able to convince people that this is a good thing.

Henning Heinz, 2011-02-09

This post reminded me of a comment I made late last year on What Happened to Lotus PR in July

The "Lotus Brand" now has sadly far too many negative connotations in the industry these days ranging from outright end user hatred to decision makers asking "...are they still around ?". Sad, sad, sad....

Rav Dhaliwal, 2011-02-09

Yes, you saw it in October. Good!

Volker Weber, 2011-02-09

@Henning - where did you get that numbers from ? I never saw anything like that released somewhere. Can you proof these points or are these educated guesses ? I would really be interested to see these points in a official IBM statements - talking to IT architects they would really clarify some questions they and I have !

Heiko Voigt, 2011-02-09

Well Heiko.
Before Wikipedia became popular people proved you wrong and you stand corrected. Now it is you that has to prove everything. So just for fame and fortune ;-)
If you want an official IBM statement you have to ask IBM (sorry).
If you want an informal confirmation (at least for the JSF part) I recommend reading "Mastering XPages" by IBM Press. For me it is quite simple. XPages much is what Workplace was plus nsf access (and this product was introduced in 2003 and died in 2007). Whether or not the platform will move forward only depends on IBM and that probably should make me a bit nervous. I really appreciate the hard work many people do at IBM but maybe the truth is that you no longer get a development budget for bigger things in Domino.

Henning Heinz, 2011-02-10

Re-badging.. To coin a phrase from Barrack Obama. "Just puttin' lipstick on a pig."

Giulio Campoassi, 2011-02-11

from my PoV social features are "just" an additional, nevertheless senseful feature. @erik: workplace belongs already to the IBM filenet client :-) Guess users will be afraid if they got a new name for their ECM entryway .....

Ingo Harpel, 2011-02-11

@Henning : you are talking about specifications release dates, not product implementing those specs ! That's totally different !

JSF 2.0, for exemple has only been trully implemented recently in what are considered "top noch" jee app servers (jboss, glasfish etc...)...On this particluar point, Philippe Riand stated that they will eventually upgrade XPages to JSF 2 but that XPages is currently on par with most important features that JSF 2 brought to the table (ajax etc...), and contains even more...

Servlet 3.0 is just out as a spec and very few full implement this spec you really need some aspects of servlet 3.0 in your projet ? what ? @annotations ? Com' on...

On the positive side, have you noticed that Domino has been OSGIfied ? See how fast it happened ?

Domino as a web app platform has more evolved in the last 2 years than in 10 years before, so, whatever IBM should do better, credits must be made to Phillipe's Team ! And, from what we saw, they are planning to continue at this rythm !

Michael Bourak, 2011-02-13

@Henning - sorry, yes - you make a statement, you prove it. It has always been that way. Just that today, more people hear you. I ordered the book, as soon as I have it, I will check ;-). Keep you posted.
And btw. - we're getting big development budgets for bigger things in Domino at our customers using xpages, even new customers in that space. But I agree that Domino as a platform is going to have a hard time coming.

Heiko Voigt, 2011-02-14

My point was "I don't want to say that XPages are bad but the world is not waiting for Xpages. It is one technology out of many[..]"
Those Top Notch application servers are license free. If you say that you support open standards then you will be compared with those products that support open standards. If you lock someone in you have to be better than the products that don't. Otherwise you are at risk to lose the race for developers and general IT awareness. But don't try to convince me as I am not even a developer but those that are moving away from the product.
There are companies that are totally unimpressed by XPages but still use Notes and Domino. They are probably easier to catch now than when they migrated away.
There is an assumption that Domino with a few thousand customers can survive as a development platform or application server. I doubt this and IBM probably is already aware if it.

Henning Heinz, 2011-02-14

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