Lotus, tell us what you know. Please.

by Volker Weber


Yes, LotusKnows.com still exists. So, Lotus Knows. Maybe you can tell us what you know. A few questions:

Q1. Is IBM Collaboration Solutions an internal name like WPLC was? I have heard that is the case, but you have also shown it in lots of places. If it is a public name, is it used as a synonym to Lotus, does it replace it, or how does that work?



Q2. Lotus disappears and has disappeared from many products, like Forms, Connections, Sametime. Will it disappear from all products? Or is it going to be stuck with everything that smells of Lotus Notes?


Q3. It appears, LotusLive would then need to get a new name as well. Tell us about it. And how does that work for the services inside of LotusLive? There are some which have already dropped the Lotus branding, like Connections for instance, and others like Notes which still use them.


Q4. Are there any plans to rebrand your certification program? As the Lotus brand slowly disappears from product names, it does not really make sense to use it


Q5. That's an obvious one, right?



LotusLive is the one that is the most shocking to me. It was released, what seems like only a few months ago, and it's entire existence is based on the Lotus name. Now IBM is hinting that they are going to rebrand Lotus. Does it seem like the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing? Why would they release an entirely new "cloud" based product line base on the Lotus name, then turn right back around and scrap the Lotus name, it just doesn't make any sense.

Personally I don't care what they call it or how they brand or market it. I just want to see some forward progress in regards to quality and features. The Lotus Notes client hasn't changed much at all since version 4 when I started using notes. Sure menu items got shifted around, bugs were fixed, etc, etc. But aside from the eclipse underpinning and making menu's blue and prettier, what has been improved, added?

I can only think of several major items, things like DAOS, IDVault, Recent Contacts, and most recently Managed Mail replicas. All of these new feature had their share of issues that were or will be fixed by a fix pack or "next" release. But again, most of these didn't really offer a new user experience, a new way to use the client interface.

The Lotus Notes client is very stale and DOES need to change. I can't say that I agree with how they are handling the questions about their implications of a rebrand or the fact that they are rebranding at all. A silly new name isn't going to keep me interested in Lotus Notes or the brand. IBM needs to focus on providing a better client experience, better quality (so we aren't fix packed to death), and something that just plain works and is simple to use(for the average end user). Oh, and if they could work it in, get rid of the horrible night mare that is PVU licensing and come up with a more cost effective way for businesses to acquire the product.

IBM needs to up it's game 150% if it wants to even consider being a major player in the collaboration or social space. They need to ditch the 1980's model of the client that has undergone many layers of body filler and numerous paint jobs(8.x code). The fact is it's still running with the same tired engine(NSF files, 32kb limits), it needs to be rebuilt.

The fact that IBM isn't saying what they plan to do, well I hope it's because it's going to be truly revolutionary and they don't want to spoil the surprise. However, I don't get the feeling that is going to happen.

Steve Medure, 2011-06-29

... why should they?
We never found out how the marketing strategy worked at IBM, why should it be different this time?
I don't believe, that this has something to do with IBM not liking the Lotus brand. Until now, the whole brand thing was a mess. Portal part of Lotus? Connections in Lotus?
We have to accept, that IBM will never reveal the strategy (BTW, that's normal).
Customers moving away from Notes? Remember, during the last LotuSphere BASF was on stage. They moved to M$ but they use Connections. If I had been IBMs boss and still be interested in Notes, I wouldn't let customers like this on stage, but they did. That should give us a clue. Notes is a cash cow and IBM is ready to wring it out till the last drop and the last drop will come, as will come the last drop for MS Exchange in a few years. The classic approch in marketing is not to invest a lot in marketing for a cash cow. Looks like IBM is follwing the text book.
Somehow they doing it right. Software is a much bigger business then a few years ago, when everybody thought, IBM will be just a service company. Look where we are now. Which product is the best seller? That's anybodys guess, but I am pretty sure, it's not Notes anymore (or will not be in a year or two).
When I look at the market now, I see many usefull tools. Notes is not up to date anymore, even with XPages (neither is Microsoft with Exchange and Sharepoint).
Yes, I know, for Partners it is hard. But it has been hard the last 5 or more years.
You want to survive in this market? Learn something else. Move towards apple, if you don't like Microsoft, but none of these companies are saints.
A lot of money is waiting out there in the software business, it is just possible, that it will not comming from Notes developement.

Christian Tillmanns, 2011-06-29

Maybe the branding will be "IBM Smarter Planet Collaboration", that seems to be the only 'brand' they advertise.

Craig Boudreaux, 2011-06-29

@Christian: BASF is not going to MS - they are using Lotus Notes.
Maybe you mixed it up with Bayer who want to use Outlook for Mail and will keep LN for Applications and introduced Connections.

Olaf Boerner, 2011-06-29

Lotus Knows that IBM made the best invention ever by inventing Fortran. After that it has been going downhill steadily. Still today Fortran is the fastest language of all, beating even C++ and C by miles.

Lotus Notes was good as long it was written in C/C++ all the way up until 8.0.2, but since it was written in Java, and it was completely useless because it was too slow and buggy.

I think IBM should start from the beginning, and rewrite Lotus Notes with Fortran. Only that way, you can get a super fast database client and server.

That's what I do now: I am rewriting all my C++ code as Fortran 2008 code, and if I can do it, why should IBM not be able to do it. They can spend their money in much worse places.

Mika Heinonen, 2011-06-29

Mika, you never fail to make me smile...

Stuart McIntyre, 2011-06-30

Olaf, Connections ist ein U-Boot einer Division. Das wird noch ganz doll weh tun.

Mika, I want to do it in COBOL then.

Volker Weber, 2011-06-30

IBM should rewrite Lotus Notes in an artificial intelligence language like Lisp. If there were some AI and natural language understanding wrapped around our databases, then we could use our smartphones (or even IBM SameTime) to call our applications and ask them directly what they know.

Gary Saliba, 2011-06-30

I have to disagree with the suggestions to use COBOL or Lisp over Fortran. First comes speed, and only with speed you can solve more complex problems.

This raises also a fundemental problem of this whole society and collaboration trend. There would be no need for such societies, if computers would do their job right, but it seems today's IT business revolves about 90% about instabilities, bugs and slowness issues of computers, which would be void if people would use Fortran.

Mika Heinonen, 2011-06-30

I don't think customers care what Notes/Domino is written in. As long as it looked pretty, functioned well and was fast they would be happy.

I thought this discussion was about branding though?

My question is, why did Lotus invest so much money in the Lotus Knows campaign, work so hard to tell us how well it was working and then dump it? I smell BS somewhere...

Carl Tyler, 2011-06-30

When non-technical executives at the office ask, "why are we still on Lotus", (and they have asked), the message is not getting out. And it's not my job to sell the product. And they don't understand the benefits that we have by staying on it. They only hear other people talk about Exchange.

Andy Donaldson, 2011-06-30

@Andy: I beg to differ. If you are passionate about Lotus, want it to live at your company, and not replaced by Exchange so you have to deal with the horrors that Exchange and SQLServer and Outlook and Sharepoint and all the other extra software and hardware and support,
then it is absolutely your job to sell the product. Your actions can keep you out of hell. It has been documented enough that to rely on IBM for this is a sure road to hellish experiences. I agree that better marketing/tech support/sales support would make that easier. Still we have a choice to stand idly by or act.

I choose to act.

Lars Berntrop-Bos, 2011-06-30

Lars, whilst I agree with maintaining a positive outlook (sorry ;-) ) and working to keep the things you like, at the same time one has to have balance.

The MS stack is not so bad, nor are the umpteen other software solutions out there. Clinging religiously to one thing is not an approach I would ever recommend, whether it’s for Lotus, for Google, Apple, or anyone / anything else.

Ben Poole, 2011-06-30

My comments were more about having a positive attitude than the product merits. So I hartily agree with Ben

Lars Berntrop-Bos, 2011-06-30

To answer Carls question.
[...]why did Lotus invest so much money in the Lotus Knows campaign, work so hard to tell us how well it was working and then dump it?[...]

Maybe IBM did not spend much money in the Lotus Knows campaign but if your former budget was near zero then everything looks big.
Some people at Lotus told us that it was working well. What else should they say? Official figures said something else and they now dump it because it did not work.
LotusLive is a niche product. In most cases not even considered. The press talks about BPOS (and Google).
The funny thing is believing that with naming everything IBM all this will change.
In Germany outside of banking and insurance IBM often is still considered an ancient computer manufacturer or overcharging consultant company. If you think that no one will ask "Why are we still using IBM?" then think again.
I am already hearing this at companies that still use an IBM host or an AS400/iSeries/System i.

But Carl nailed it with
"As long as it looked pretty, functioned well and was fast they would be happy."

Maybe in this area IBM is facing the same problems as Nokia. It would take too long and cost too much to fix it. Nokia gave up on OVI as IBM now does with Lotus. Only that they will finally license from Microsoft sounds unlikely.
But this is not the end of the products that were under the Lotus brand (except maybe for QuickR). Most of them will have a "great" future. Maybe again comparable with Symbian and Nokia.

Henning Heinz, 2011-06-30

@Lars - Try using the Microsoft products yourself instead of relying on hearsay. In my experience they are a lot more usable and stable than anything I ever saw from Lotus. Your mileage may vary.

Charles Robinson, 2011-07-01

I would love to see IBM re-brand Notes Client as a productivity suite. I would also like to be able to go out to [insert favorite electronics store here] and see "IBM Workspace Express" sitting on the shelf next to MS Office for half the price. a lot of changes would be required to make it work... wizards to set up mail accounts and local mail rules just to start.

Steve Pridemore, 2011-07-06

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