If you don’t want to listen, GET OUT!

When I was sitting through the SNOUG conference, I had not as usual, a seat in the front row. I prefer sitting up front, because I hear better and I don’t have to look around heads, to see the slides. Now this time I was sitting probably in the fifth row and during the day, something struck me. There were a lot of „listeners“ just doing other things. Replying to emails, look at their phones for the length of a speech. Some of them around me, never ever listened to the poor guys in front. They came, got their gear out and started typing. Why did they come in the first place? Just to have a quite spot to get some work done? Are their bosses against home office? Some of those were IBMers. Did they come just to get the seats filled?
Once I told an IBMer sitting beside me during a speech to stop typing, because the clack-e-di-clack was just annoying. I personally find this behavior highly impolite. That is just something you don’t do. That person in front is working his/her butt off, to give us information, that could probably be important to us in the future and all they do is showing absolutely no interest whatsoever. They are not even politely pretending it.
It’s like the management summary. I am pretty sure, you could write a technical report of 50 pages with „Lorem ipsum“-Text and add a management summary in front, most would not realise it. Why bother to write the report in the first place? Just write management summaries. If somebody has a question, they can still ask.
But for the future, if you have other things to do than listening to a speech, get out! If you want to check your emails, wait for a break (good anti-smart-phone-junkie-training BTW)!
It is nobodies intention to be impolite, but notebooks, tablets and smartphones have given us access always and everywhere. It takes just a tiny bit of common sense and empathy to realise, that showing openly no interest whatsoever in somebodies work isn’t nice at all.
Another tip. If you have a date with a very nice person, leave your damn phone in the car/at home/in the bin/in the Mississippi. If she/he is not doing it, get up, while she/he is on the phone and leave. She/he is obviously not interested in you and therefore she/he can pay the bill.

We are damn stupid or hindsight is 20/20

We as partners are always quick in pointing fingers towards Boston, when talking about the declining market share of Notes. Lately I just thought a while about things, what the partners could have done, to prevent this. Right, we could not do anything about the message IBMers were shouting to the world 10 years ago, everything will be Websphere or Workplace and mail is dead anyway. But right before that, we had the means and the tools (most of them at least and the rest the clever guys could have made up) to prevent a large part of the decline and make lots of money on the way.
On my table lies a book named „GROUPWARE, Communication, Collaboration and Coordination“. It talks about messaging, leveraging shared databases, the message store and the WWW as a collaboration tool. About the same what we are talking about today, except that the word „social“ is missing. That book was published by the Lotus Development Corp. in 1995. You can take that book and use it for consultant work today. Most companies still don’t get it, how to use email effectively, on the contrary, it is worse today, because every single fart of (non-)information today is send by email, just to be able to say „but I sent you an email about it“. It is used to cover the backs of millions of employees, whose managers still think in terms of slavery (and that is just one example).
Since my first day as a Notes developer I always thought, with Notes, I could do a very sexy mail client that fits my needs perfectly. I slowly started adding views and buttons here and there, nothing fancy, some color there but I never touched the whole appearance of it. I should have. Damn it, we all should have. We should have thrown the standard mail template out and make our own. One that fits specific business needs. One that can handle more than one email address (hell, we still don’t have that, I mean without changing the environment). One that can handle more than one domain. One that does project management at the same time. One that looks cool. One that links discussion dbs, teamrooms or CRM and CMS together. A very simple one, like NotesBuddy (somebody still has copy of it? I would like to try something), the possibilities would have been endless.
But since the darn mail template was so incredible complicated to understand (don’t even think about documentation) and in some versions we couldn’t even save changes because there was an error in the code somewhere, We didn’t do it. We all just relied on IBM bringing new features every now and than, which were often just new coats of paint or not important to the average user at all.
If we had taken mail out of the inbox and put it were it belongs, in project management applications and CRMs, we could have locked the customer in for a long time, because none of the competitors was able to integrate as we were. Yes, yes, I know, „locked in“ is bad for the customer but it’s very good for the seller. And since we are good guys, I wouldn’t even have a bad conscience and because we would have delivered additional value. And customers couldn’t tell Notes is ugly, only your or my client would have been ugly and they would have the freedom of choice. Which isn’t a bad thing, even if you are locked in on a platform. Which you are anyway in one way or the other and most people just do not care about it.
Or we just didn’t do it, because we did not get it either? Looks like, does it?

Same procedure as every year, Miss Sophie – SNOUG-SR – Connect 2013 in Geneva

Only Swiss and Germans will understand the joke in the title.

The yearly Snoug SR event finished with a  lot of news … we all already know. Except probably for the news about Sametime Next. Pretty cool that thingy, if you ask me. Video chat on the web client? Not bad at all. Otherwise it was the same old story for the Connect 2013 part. Nothing new there. Any news about marketing? No, and I did not dare to ask. On the other hand, I did ask the head of sales for the Alps region about a more small company friendly licensing scheme for the Connections VMs … he did not know but he promised to follow up. Since he did not ask for my name or my business card, hell probably freezes over until I hear something. Have to torture somebody else for an answer.
By far the best contribution was the one from Sika. They have deployed Connections in a way, that sounded more like an accident. No formal budget. The driving person is from marketing and he can be very proud of the achievement. They started with just 5 persons and today there are over 2000 on it. They use Connections out of the box and are pretty happy, it seems.
He made some interesting points. First lessons learned:

  • Don’t call the first deployment „Pilot“. People will be reluctant to participate. Go for real from the start. Any content counts
  • Most of the support was self service. They underestimated the training needs
  • One technical glitch. They did not have the same password as for Notes

Success factors:

  • Top management support
  • Chose community leaders wisely
  • Use common sense for the rules and not too many of the later
  • Story telling. Success stories are better than statistics about klicks or whatever a bean counter can count.

The last point is very, very important. I met again that very frustrated guy from that famous bank, which deployed it without any content or useful help. Since users did not find anything interesting from the start, they never adopted it. Now management thinks it’s crap and they will deploy MySpace. One just hopes they learned anything. Probably not.
Bankers! Should I say more?
I said it before and even if nobody wants to hear it. IBM Docs is damn cool. I want that.
I do wonder, if I should move to the Smart Cloud. It’s not even very expensive. A lot less than Office 365 which I did not like when I tested it. Probably I am just biased towards anything that comes from Microsoft (while I don’t think the Windows 8 desktop is such a bad idea).
Since the Snoug event at Givaudan two years ago, I compare every time the catering with that of Givaudan (see, I am drooling again). This time, so lala. The buffet was nice to look at and we had seats. The appetizers were plenty and all right. Nothing special. The roast beef was hard, the crostini cold and a bit soggy. My main course looked good and tasted bad. That food was for tourists. It was really lousy. The cook wanted to do something special but lacks the know how. Deserts were OK again. A bit on the heavy side. Nope, no chance against Givaudan.
If you are interested in deploying Domino 9 on Ubuntu, come back later. I met Christian Boss from Camille Bloch again and he agreed to send me his how-to. I will test it and than you guys can have it, too.