The new XNotes … or something like that in 18 month. The sequel

Wow, the comments on my last post were, let’s say, interesting (at least I got some for once). Henning Heinz let out his frustration and I would say, he had some points there. In his first post he said, that XPages is my future, the old development model is dead and Notes could be just another web development technology. My answer to this is, yes you are right, but you missed the point I was trying to make (or I my way to make the point wasn’t clear enough).
I believe, there is nothing wrong with quick and dirty development as long as it helps somebody to be more productive and here the old model shines. With XPages you could probably do quick and dirty stuff, but that is not the purpose. With the flexibility and the incredible versatility comes a much higher complexity, which makes it almost impossible to master for the average part time programmer.
Are XPages just another web development platform? Sure they are. We always wanted something that did not reveal the backend, because we don’t want to be bothered by those I-hate-Domino-because-it’s-Domino guys anymore. Hence the X Work Server which serves exactly this purpose. Here you have the other side of the coin.
Now Tim Tripcony comes on stage. While he is rather annoyed by Henning, he apologises in the end, something not everybody would do ( and therefore he get’s a star in his carnet de devoirs). Now Tim claims the huge impact of the extension library on user and developer productivity. That is right, but nobody sees where this increased productivity comes from. For the user it is just another PHP/HTML/Java/JavaScript/.Net site, assuming those are the buzzwords he/she knows. We can be proud of cheating the user to believe that they have finally left that horrible (that’s irony) Notes behind and are on modern technology, but that does not help to change the common knowledge (irony again) that Notes is old, bad, ugly, expensive, a memory hog and dead anyway. I am guilty here, too, avoiding to say Lotus, Notes or Domino in any conversation that could remotely result in a new contract.
Back to Henning who spills out his frustration. He has seen IBM Partner being not loyal to IBM, but Henning, is IBM loyal to us? I had my share of frustrations in that departement, too. IBM openly claims the right to take away customers from you, if they want. That’s not very loyal. If BPs make more money in selling Exchange and Sharepoint, that’s the way to go. Nothing wrong with that model. The BP is not responsible for the stupidity feeling of the customer who want’s to go mainstream, even at the price of much higher administrative cost and lower productivity. You can’t help people who buy Microsoft Office, even if OpenOffice would fit their needs perfectly. Funny thing is they know it and do it anyway, because they fear the risk of being different. That has nothing to do with logic or stupidity, it’s only human.
I think the license cost isn’t a big problem and some people even think that something that does not cost anything, is not worth anything. If IBM had a absolute superb, easy to learn, easy to use, WYSIWYG development suite that could do anything from DB2, PHP, HTML, to XPages (and makes coffee and brings in the croissants in the morning), they could sell it for a premium price (like 5 bucks in the Apple store), but that isn’t the case. You are right Henning, out there are enough free tools that are very good and the user does not care what you are using, as long as it works, but making XPages free – which it is, at least for developers – wouldn’t change the game.
Now back to Tim. IBM responsive and they listen, yeah right. That might be true for you, working for GBS, but little Christian Tillmanns here in the from IBM long time forgotten Switzerland or Henning in Germany, where just about half of the IBM staff got THE LETTER, we do not make a very deep impact. Even though Ed once in a while honors my blog with a response (normally when I got something wrong, but I still feel like a teenager who touched the heels of Lady Gaga … OK middle aged women that got a glance from George Clooney), but I am not even on the radar for the Notes beta program. Oh, I did register and I get the code drop mails from Jan Kennedy, but I still do not have the permission to enter the site. Pretty hard on my health, that. I get the mail, get all excited, sweat drops from my feet, heart beat at 180 and then „Christian Tillmanns, you are not authorized to access ldd/beta/nd80xbetas.nsf/DateAllThreadedWeb/c8f41bfbd706d6f086257d280058b1a2.„, Ha Ha, Jan, my widow will sue you for emotional cruelty.
When there was still Lotus Foundations, I really tried to work together with IBM. Cutting a long story short, I met a whole lot of people in endless meetings, many of them probably groan today when the see my name somewhere for various reasons, but whenever I tried to get IBM to work with me (or any BP for the matter) to market LF with something outside the conventional co-marketing schema, I did run into a rubber wall. The whole thing was highly frustrating. In the end I went to meetings without being prepared with a why-am-I-doing-this feeling, because I wasn’t able to achieve anything. Tim, IBM might listen to you, because it is GBS, but not to me or Henning and seeing the frustration level in Hennings post, I would say, he cares about Notes, otherwise he would have moved on long time ago.
Henning, can IBM do miracles? Don’t know, but I hope though. The idea behind Connections is brilliant and if they can pull this of again with a new Notes, probably by leaving behind this annoying uphill battle against Outlook/Exchange by delivering out of the box more than just mail – in the eye of the user, WE know better – all the better. Otherwise I dont‘ know, but I might come up with a prediction once in a while with a good chance to be proven wrong later.

5 Gedanken zu „The new XNotes … or something like that in 18 month. The sequel“

  1. Switzerland, Germany … hmm … I’m from Czech republic, so nearby, but having the same frustration here. We develop in Notes for last 16 years. It has brought us a lot of customers and nice solutions. But you can have a great product or platform and you are not able to sell it and just opposite … you can have a bad or less productive platform but you can sell it, if you make some effort.

    For the last 10 years we can see main pain here repeating all the time … it is IBM’s strategy for sales = NO MARKETING. There are no IBM’s articles in public media for ages here, we are begging IBM representatives to publish something about Lotus brand products … but no way. And its not just Lotus Notes issue. It’s overall strategy. IBM Connections are completely unknown technology here … why? Its simple … no information around, no marketing, no reviews. We asked IBM for some activities in IBM Connection area for our customers (there was an EMEA effort recently called ‚You are entitled‘ for promoting IBM Connections) and … nothing, this promotion simply failed with no results and no activity from IBM … just silence! We cant really fight against this. Every producer must do some effort to promote his products. (you cannot sell cars with no promotions, no advertisement, no reviews … ) As the result we have many, many companies/partners around just leaving platform because of lack of customers … nobody knows it = nobody wants it. We can see real frustration here, we(and many other partners) have invested many, many years into this technology, we love it and still believe in it … but we, as partners, cannot fight the lack of interest from IBM marketing departments. I appreciate Ed Brills or Niklas Heidloff effort but its not enough, unfortunately. They are not able to reach customers in particular countries. Its a real IBM’s Lotus brand suicide … And I don’t understand why it is. Why IBM pays for these products development when meanwhile there is no sales effort. Not easy to understand.

    IBM loyalty issue is just fun as mentioned. If we sell IBM licencies and next year is IBM going to send the invoice to customer for maintenance on their own simply omitting the partner … its unbelievable !!

  2. I am not sure if I would say I am frustrated and there is no reason to apologise for anybody (if that was serious). People tell me that my English sounds rude and that I have a grumpy style of writing. But normally I am a happy person. I do like the Lotus community and have full respect for other views and opinions.
    People don’t have to agree with me because what works for me doesn’t for others (and vice versa).
    Now if IBM would listen to me or not is not important anymore. The IBM people know what they are doing and they are very successful (much more than me). It sometimes hurts if long time Notes customers are abandoning the platform but it is not that IBM is unaware of it.It is not even a question of listening. IBM do listen but it is their decision what they are going to do (or not).
    And Lotus Notes still works for many people. Tim (and others) are pushing the platform forward. They say that they are successful and I have no reason to doubt this. I hope that it pays off for them (all all other engaged people in the Yellowverse).
    And who knows. Maybe I am all wrong and this platform will have a great comeback. The people for sure would deserve it.
    BTW: Your Captchas are horrible.

    1. Captcha better now?

      I am not sure, if IBM marketing knows what it is doing. As I said before, I consider Notes as a cash cow. You use another marketing approach, than for a new product. But why killing it outright? With a cash cow, you should at least nurse the customer base, to keep the cash flowing. I think here is IBMs historic marketing failure. The harm is done, it’s too late. On the other hand, the public perception of Notes (dead, bad, old, ugly …) is so bad – and that isn’t intirely IBMs fault, bad BPs and CIOs have their share here – that only an (almost) complete new product would turn the wheel around. I don’t think the Social Edition is good enough for this purpose, hence the low upgrade number 4. Only the XClient could serve this purpose.
      IBM is pretty successfull with Connections, but is this because or despite marketing? If you are focussing on the Global 500, marketing is done by personal contact. Pretty easy. That’s just not enough, to get a bigger customer base. But in case of Connections, IBM probably does not want it anyway or they say, we get the biggies and BPs can have the rest, but it’s their problem, to find customers. Why not? Especially when your product runs in the browser and the user normaly does not even see the IBM logo, therefore you can not cross sell.

  3. I don’t always post admonishments, and I always read blogs with useful suggestions and criticisms.

    The captcha is indeed a challenging one on your site though 🙂

    1. The captcha is not better then. I will get another one.

      admonishments? (had to leo that first, in German= Ermahnungen) Gee, I would not go that far.
      If I ever make an impact to something that is important to me, I can die in peace. Did not happen so far. Must carry on then.

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