Now, that was the OGS

I watched it. First I did not want to watch it, because I thought I get it over with faster if I watch it on YouTube.
And it was all that I expected. More than two hours of social, social, social. I personally … and that is really my own opinion, thought it was pretty boring.
I did not know the special guest, but he was interesting.
Sandy does not walk around anymore like a tigress in a cage – from one teleprompter to the next – and was much better prepared than last year.
Alistair should really stopp applauding all the time. It sounds annoying.
Rethinking work … again
Analytics … again

It’s funny. We get all those examples of social behavior using technology thrown at us and still have problems explaining, what we should do with it.
I do like Connections 4.5. Since I am never going to use it, I have something to dream about. It will be cool but it will be way too much too chew for the average user and company. But, 60% of the Global 500 companies use it already. It’s about time it trickles down to the smaller companies. Which somehow does not happen. Wonder why? It’s becoming too complicated.

The longer I watched, more and more I got the impression, there was nothing really new, while everything is so new, that most don’t know, how to use it.
Every year we get a company that shows off, how the use Connections. Stop, non of them use it, they are always in the process of deploying it to everybody.
I would like to see a company that started with Connections 1 and is now using Connections 4. IBM you might want to ask Sogeti.
Actually, I can’t hear it anymore. Yes, we need to know the customer. Yes, social analytics is somewhat cool. Yes, yes, yes… I am bored to death. Every more or less good hotel around the world has had index cards for the last 100 years about the wishes of their customers. Every sales rep who knows his customers, knows how to engage with them socially. It is not new, it is just another way to look at it and store it. It isn’t my fault, that 90% of all CRM systems only show sales figures. I wrote CRM Systems that stored every other information like emails, letters and reports in one place and helped to get projects done. Did not know that I was developing social software. But it isn’t really new.
Connections 4.5 will come this year and it is not easy to implement, expensive and would need a lot of training to get the people use it to the max. Forget „intuitive“ and all that stuff. There are now way too many bells and whistles to people learn it in a few minutes without frustration. If they come from  a „normal“ company that still uses file servers and email, they are overwhelmed by that. During the implementation everybody is focused on the new tool, you get speeches and everything you need as help (gamification – horrible). Somebody that comes in new after the hype cooled down, will be hard pressed to understand everything with an on the job training. And since you will always have a few in your company that plainly refuse that new stuff, the percentage of users will fall with time.
Especially if the new guy is in the C-level. Last year I followed a discussion about new markets for helicopters. One company in England had the idea to sell helicopters to all those highly successful Londoners with heaps of money. Turns out, they went to hell and back, because the arrogance of success is not limited to companies, it is also something that is very common with brain dead nouveau riche (read: traders, analysts, talent show winners). It was almost impossible to train them a save way of flying – which was part of the contract – because they just don’t like to follow rules and do it by the book. Or I give you another example. In recent years there was a flood of new „Super Cars“. Before that, if you had an F40 or the latest Lamborghini, you drove it with a lot of care, because they were extremely difficult to drive fast and in general were out to kill you. With all the electronics today, your dog can drive it. The electronics are not there to make it faster, they are there to prevent you to kill yourself. If you are not a race driver, you can not use the potential of the car, but the car companies are glad that you have enough money to buy yourself a toy and make everything cheaper for those who can drive. Which means, your average nouveau riche and his friends, do not have to learn something new to use their toys. It’s a turn-key-show-off-system. No skills required, only money.
Now imagine somebody like that and who has never used social tools before, comes to work in your company that uses Connections. According to his CV and due to the fact he is married to a friend of the bosses half cousins grand mothers uncle, he is the absolute top shot and will cut the project times in half. He is used to email and SMS and generally yells at people. Do you think he will readily learn something new? Something were he/she wasn’t involved in the decision? No way … and Connections will be a glorified file server as Sharepoint is today (most companies don’t use the potential of Sharepoint, how do you think they are going to use the potential of Connections). He will use an Excel sheet (which the company bought for him, because he needs it and IBM docs isn’t good enough) with his own task list – a highly sophisticated one with colors and everything – and send it by email to his slaves. So much for the smarter workforce.
My example is exaggerated? Sure it is, but it isn’t as far away from the truth, as you might think. It is the same problem, email faced 20 years ago. I know very intelligent people who said in 2000 FAX is the way of the future. Unfortunately email compared to social software is comparatively simple and easy to master. IBM still has a long way to go getting the message out. Whenever I try to tell people what I think is the latest, hottest in software I generally get empty faces. Nobody knows what I am talking about. Facebook is at best something for marketing and linkedIn/Xing for having half private conversations. That Connections can do that, too, and more isn’t obvious, because the „more“ is not something that let’s people dream about a better future.
IBM is certainly on the right way with the multifunctional inbox. That is the way to go, because people live in the inbox. No more  „think outside the inbox“. That should make it easier to convert the average user to a certain degree.

What about Notes? One slide: „Hey we have Notes 9 in Beta“ and that was about it.
Demos? Not a lot.
The developers in the audience must have been a bit disapointed, because the OGS was one big sales event.
And for partners? IBM is going cloud first and mobile. Both things the traditional partner is not going to like. With the IBM cloud the partner just hands over the customers to IBM and they are gone for good. Even though IBM tells every year how partners are the backbone blah blah blah … I don’t think that this is still true. If you are a partner who develops for Connections you might have a chance to survive, but as a Notes/Domino partner, I believe you will not see a lot of help from IBM. It is slowly squeezing out the very small partners. Many can’t sell licenses anymore (except for ASL, which can be tricky) and they move away slowly to other pastures. For the bigger partners, though, your life isn’t a lot better. IBM can always take over from you. I for the matter don’t see a bright future for IBM partners. One market is just not yet there and the other isn’t very interesting anymore.

After the OGS I just wondered, if we should not start a community project „Connections for the poor“. I think we could build a social platform foundation on Domino. Not with the whole feature set of Connections, but with a lot of the basic stuff but a lot less administration headache. Will not happen. No interest at all out there. We are not as social as we think.



4 Gedanken zu „Now, that was the OGS“

  1. if you are disappointed you just expected too much 😉
    Most Business Partners are in bed with other vendors too so whatever IBM does is not so important for many of them. if your business still solely relies on Notes and Domino you either have a strong customer relationship or you did not hear the bells ringing ten years ago.

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