Yes, the title is overdoing it. I admit. But still, the yellow bubble is amazing. Look at that!I don’t know any other COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE product, where the developer community does things like rewriting and extending a whole API, just to make live easier for everybody. API’s is IBM’s the core business and still there are people out there, who have the time and pleasure, to do a better job. And not to forget all the other contributions, like the extension library, which is now part of Notes.
That brings me seamlessly to a thought I had lately. Many of us have or will have customers, that want to move off Notes, no matter what. There is now way we can convince them otherwise. Unfortunately, many times, that means a lost customer. Now what? What if we could keep the customer and still move them off Notes? OK, you can learn Exchange and SharePoint, but somehow, that would not be the same. On the other hand, that yellow bubble is full of amazingly capable people.
What if we thought beyond widgets, plugins, APIs and Apps? What if we thought in terms of a whole new product and definitely not open source, because customers just don’t trust things that are for free (which is funny enough).
There are other products that were inspired by Notes. Couchbase for example.
Now let’s see, how we could turn the constant pressure on Notes to our advantage? We could write it together AND we would make money, done right, even a lot.
It works like this:
Some of us who like the idea of making a lot of money and taking a risk on the way, found a small company. As long as not a lot of money is involved, it will not need a lot of administrative work, at least not were I live. The first thing is to set up a fair system to „pay“ any contribution to the product (that system can only be as fair as possible, but never absolutely fair. Keep that in mind). It could be something like grading system for tasks with different difficulties and time needed. Not too complicated, because we want limit the heated discussions about it. The pay will be shares in the company.
Others who want to take part, can buy shares (they would be very welcome, too). Everybody who holds shares, is a partner, too. Once beyond a certain number of partners, the system would develop it’s own dynamic and keep itself alive AND deliver a key argument, that the investment of the customers is safe.
Having the „pay“ system in place, the real work starts.
What should it do (in the beginning)? It should cover the basic requirements of why so many think, they need Outlook and SharePoint. Which means, mail, calendar, task, notes and files. It must work in the browser and on mobile devices, with an offline client as a nice feature. Replication is anyway required. The whole thing should be stored in a single database system and should be completely transparent to the user. Files and mails for example should not make a difference. I want the user to have a folder structure, were (s)he can organise the work without creating .eml files. In the end, all that’s needed is a tagging system that looks like folders. And so on, if I don’t stop now, I am filling the server with ideas. As we know, the possibilities are endless.
The risk of success is there. The more partner take part, the faster it grows, the more capabilities it gets, the more money we make. The beauty is, that if a customer wants more capabilities, the yellow bubble has the solutions. Moving them back to Notes and Connections. And again, the partner makes money. That’s what it is all about, since the company would consist almost entirely of partners.
Now this could be a way out of the misery many feel they are in. Is it worth the risk? If you ask that question, you are lost, because nobody can answer it. It’s either yes or no. The answer will be given when it is too late, either because it is a success or it isn’t. But taking risk is the way progress works.
Now the bad part. I had my share of proposed collaborations. Meetings with no end. Every single time it failed, because nobody could agree how to share. Mostly it was about „who get’s the leads“. It came up every time and killed it. It’s a bit like a pond full of crocodiles. We admire each others tees, but don’t come near my food. Crocodiles are great animals. Survived for millions of years, but are not social at all. Only when the water level drops, female crocs leave the pond and the kids stay behind, under the watchful eye of a single mother. Funny how the picture fits. I think the water level is pretty low by now.
And hey, it’s just an idea but that’s my idea. If you steal it (which if feel is highly unlikely), you should start to avoid dark corners.