Lotus becomes IBM Collaboration Solutions – News from the SNOUG SR at Givaudan SA

First things first, the Swiss Notes User Group Suisse Romande did it again. The conference yesterday was just great. A perfect organisation and Givaudan SA was the perfect host. 
The way Givaudan pampered us, will be hard to top and we will never be Givaudan customers.
 Apart from a very nice conference room with tables and water bottles at every seat, we were treated to croissants, croissants au chocolat, à la vanille and other things that make me drool again.
 Lunch was heaven. I am not going see this again at SNOUG, except if we get a restaurant with a michelin star as a member, who is willing to host the event.
 We had about 8 or 9 different amuse-bouche. Tartare au dorade royale or fois gras in a little sweet bun for example. The main course was filet de boeuf, perfectly done, with a dark sauce, pintade farcie au fois gras, filet de dorade, crevette tiede à l’ail et citron with vegetables and potatoes. I have to clean my keyboard after this article. Eight or nine different absolutely delicious desserts and coffee closed the lunch. Ed Brill choose the wrong SNOUG event this year, at least regarding the food.
The sessions started with Bénédicte Comard from Givaudan SA, presenting the companies collaboration environment. She was very open the challenges her department faces. N/D was replaced as the primary development platform by WAS. Why? The legacy look and feel of N/D solutions. But with XPages, there could be a new life in the 400 odd apps they use globally, especially after hearing the third session. I really liked her session.  It sets it apart from other presentations, where mostly the positive sides of the infrastructure are presented. She asked us to discuss with her openly, what could be done better (don’t take this as an invitation to contact her with a consulting proposal, that’s for SNOUGies only).
I suppose she is the driving force behind the event within Givaudan SA. Merci Madame Comard. On peut revenir?
The second session was called „Les enjeux et les dangers des Réseaux Sociaux d’Entreprises“ by llan Avventurato of Bobadilium. I am known as a FaceBook hater and not very keen on Connections either, but this was the first time I really got it. He explained, how to introduce social software in a company. You need quite a bit of change management, to make it work. Another point was, that the whole thing must be owned, driven and monitored by HR. That makes perfectly sense. Suddenly I became a fan of the whole idea and I was not alone.
The third session came from GROUP and was about the Transformer, which helps you to convert your old Notes apps to XPages. Pretty cool, if you ask me. Freeman the Great did it again.
The last session was news from IBM. Notes Next in 2013, Lotus becomes IBM Collaboration Services, but that will change again, and other things, most of you already know anyway. Fortunately Pierre Février-Vincent from IBM took the time to create his own versions of the IBM standard presentations. They were a lot better, then what I have seen before. IBM announced that SNOUG-SR will get its own Connections environment. Thank you, I appreciate that.
Last but not least I want to thank the volunteers of the SNOUG SR for their work. I always enjoy the events. The concept of meeting every time at another Notes & Domino customer site is great.

I am going on a diet now to be ready for the autumn event.

PS: Did I mention that the whole event is free?

Is IBM the right vendor for SMB?

It looks like I touched a nerve with Henning Heinz when I said that IBMs products are not suited for SMB anymore:

IBM does not care about 20 people shops. They never did and probably never will. You are just looking at the wrong vendor for this space.
Having said that if you still like the technology you could sell LotusLive. I am not so enthusiastic about IBM’s cloud offerings but others seem to like it and licensing starts at 1 seat (so should work well for 20 people).
And for IBM and marketing. Well they are running record quarter after record quarter. They overcharge customers in such a way that I believe they must have a fantastic sales and marketing teams. IBM is awesome in many areas just not in those you (and maybe me) would like them to shine.

Wellllll … does IBM not care about 20 people shops? It did a year ago (remember, there was a product called basement(?) or foundation(?)). But we should probably talk about the Lotus brand, because IBM at least knows something new they did not wanted to realise for a long time. Most of the workforce is in SMB. Look at that:  http://www.ibm.com/smartbusiness
Amazing, isn’t it? But let’s not be too enthusiastic. IBM only wants the 250+ companies but they should buy directly from IBM through a completely new web experience. And now something even better. From 300 seats upwards, IBM may want to talk to the customer directly.
Now what about Lotus? Yes, I was frustrated after the OGS 2011. It looked like Alister and the others tried to tell you a story, they don’t really believe or they can’t find the right words. For example Bayers story about how they use their new toys, wasn’t really news. We have heard similar stories since connection came out. It lacks the WOW-factor by now. And one thing came clear. If you want to become a social company, you need to take the whole Lotus stack. Lotus/Domino will remain a mail-server-that-can-do-apps/an application-server-that-can-do-mail (I am not sure what Lotus is selling today, but I think it is mail+). If you want to use Domino at its best, than you have to buy some X-Pages application elsewhere or invest in your development department.
I think I am not alone here. The applause during the OGS was low. The demos where somewhat strange, because I had the impression to see 3 times the same thing from different products. That explains probably, why Lotus is the only brand that does not shine quarterly. Customers just don’t get it anymore. It is too complicated and the concept is too far away from their daily business and pains.
When I wrote a few weeks ago about Lotus Notes/Domino as a cash cow and if IBM should come up with something revolutionary pretty soon, I hoped for  LotuSphere. It did not happen. The new Notes Client looked nice (as far as I could see it because the screen quality was lousy this side of the pond) but not revolutionary. But before I give my final verdict, I wait for the beta. But Henning is probably right. Lotus is not the right vendor for SMB anymore. That hurts.
Now what about the marketing? Oh, Henning, come on, we always brag about it. It is kind of a sport. But seriously, if you work only the Global 1000 companies, marketing is all about networking and personal contacts. They know you and you know them (kind of inbreeding). That has been IBMs traditional approach for 100 years. That even works for the Global 20’000. Why is Ed Brill flying around the world all the time? Because he is Lotus most important marketing tool. I really do not agree with Henning. IBM does not shine in the marketing department, except in keeping the personal networks of the sales people running. But that is something even the tiniest car repair shop masters, if it survives more than a year.

Book Review … 22 Years later

Recently I was in Munich for some training with Collax. In the evening we walked through the city center and I found an old book shop. Since I am a book junkie („My name is Christian and I still don’t have an iPad“) I spend some time looking for second hand books and found the following: „Who’s afraid of BIG BLUE?“ by Regis McKenna. The author is still known as an IT marketing expert. The book was printed in 1989. It talks about IBMs role in the computer market and there are a few, no, a lot of things, I did not know and are quite interesting. For example: I didn’t know, that IBM used FUD very, I mean very heavily to keep the competition out. When I think how many times we complained about Microsofts FUD strategy against Notes, I can only come to the conclusion, they learned from the best, from IBM. But, FUD wears of. The longer you try it and it does not come true, the less people are going to believe you. IBM’s FUD strategy failed in the end and Microsoft’s will fail, too.

There were some things I asked myself, if they still stand true today.
„Entrepreneurial and independent thinking have always been discouraged among the blue-suited army of IBM managers.“
When I recall what I had to go through with most IBMers that I worked with during the Lotus Foundations era, I would say, they still hate to take decisions.
If there is not a process for it, they can’t do it.

Another interesting part was the story about the PC and PS/2. Apart from the logo there was nothing from IBM in the first IBM PC’s and many believed that the Micro Channel in the PS/2 was a marketing ploy. And I thought IBM invented the PC.

In chapter 3 McKenna talks about „Big Blues for Big Blue“* and mentions a few points, where IBM has problems.
Problem #1 – A Mind-Blogging Bureaucracy. YES, still valid today, Passport Advantage was invented by a sadistic bean counter and process manager and the lead management tool must be from another century. They certainly run it with a steam engine.
Problem #2 – Installed technology. Nope, that isn’t a problem.
Problem #3 – Incompatible Products. I don’t think that this is a problem today.
Problem #4 – The Arrogance of Success. Interesting. What do you think?
But what is certainly still true, they only fight for the Fortune 1000 accounts.

The book reads, as if it wasn’t written 22 years ago. McKenna mentions many things, I was convinced they came much later. I talked about electronic mail and a lot about networks and sharing information. Somehow I have the impression, we haven’t made a huge progress since then. Sure, the word „Internet“ wasn’t mentioned in the book, but something like that was looming on the horizon. We are still using Folders to organise data and we still use the mouse and a keyboard. I am a bit disappointed about our achievements in the last 22 years. Look at Notes. Ray Ozzy had such a wonderfull idea and everything we have today called social software has been here for two decades.

Can we have something revolutionary please!

*BTW did you know that IBM does not want you to use the term „Big Blue“? Their marketing departement found out that this is too close to „the Blues“, meaning depression.

I admit it. I don’t have a smart phone

I feel bad. Yes, I admit it. I don’t like mobile phones. I don’t send many SMS or MMS. Most of the little gadgets of the darn thing I never used. Unfortunately, I will soon have to get a new one, because after 5 years the battery is just tired. What now? Is it time to move to something smart? Do I want to read my emails on a screen not much bigger than a stamp? I think the iPhone is pretty cool, but too big. I does not fit in my hand. I wouldn’t know where to put it when I am away without my backpack. You won’t catch me with one of those belt pouches. Neither with a blue-tooth headset.

Next problem, I am greedy. I hate to buy things that are industrial waste as soon as you buy it.

I like and I can read maps. I don’t need, or rather I don’t want to use a GPS for navigation on the ground and I don’t want my car to talk to me (but you can give me a Garmin 1000 any day or an iPad with sectionals, weather and SID/STAR).

I must be mentally retarded. I just can’t get exited about mobile devices. I could get warm with an iPad, but that’s because of the books. But if I continue to buy my books at amazon I can buy a lot until the iPad makes sense. I like to have books lying around. I like to have manuals on paper (OK, here the iPad would make sense, since we don’t get any manuals on paper today) but I can not imagine to read a book on a smart phone. No way.

But I could announce to the world, that I am doing an experiment:

„Living and working without a mobile phone“

Why not. Have to think about it.

Lotus Foundations is …whatever you call it … but I go for Collax.

I am right now installing the Collax Platform Server. Those who know me, know that I hate server and network administration with a passion you can only dream of. That‘s why I liked LF. But the Collax products are as good if not better. I am almost as fast in installing the first Collax Box as I was with the x-ième LF Box. It probably does not do as many things automatically as LF, but it has much more possibilities to integrate it and security wise.

The web administration front end has a modern look and is very nice to navigate.
Installing software is completely automatic. Less clicks then LF.
Virtualisation is done with KVM which integrates seamlessly. Not like the strange setup with „run“ like LF, which is pretty unstable on our production server.

I am really happy to have found Collax. Yesterday we talked about Domino on Collax and we are going to find out the best way to do it. I have to update the Domino discussion in the Collax forum with those new ideas.

I hope you will give it a try. If you register with them and ask for a test license, you get a 60 days license and full support during this time.

I am running the Collax Platform Server on a Lotus Foundations appliance. Collax had for a long time also a display in their hardware. The code is still there and we could use it. But that isn‘t really necessary right now.

Hey life, why are you doing that to me?

This weekend, we had the party of my daughters sports club. It was pretty big and it had, kind of tradition in Switzerland, a tombola. As it is for a good cause, everybody is buying those little paper rolls with sometimes a number, but most of the time „Danke/Merci“. Me too. I shouldn’t. Why? My wife’s family was there, too. I don’t know why this always happens, but they win all the time. My mother in law got half a pig once, wheels of cheese and vacuum cleaners and other stuff, and she only plays, because she has to (good cause…). My brother in law got a few thousand bucks holiday voucher lately and so on. Me? Never anything useful. This weekend I tried to be clever. I bought an envelope with 10 „Lösli“ (Swiss German) with one win guaranteed. My brother in law took 10. He got 3 out of 10, me 1. I couldn’t believe it, I bought another 10, which I picked one after the other, being in trance, letting fortune guide my hand … nothing … nix … nada. Not even a paper clip.
He bought another 3 and got another win.
In the end there was a bottle of wine, a game kit with cards and dices, flowers and a bread.
Now you want to know what I got. Soap! An old odd smelling handcrafted olive oil soap with some strange grey stuff on the bottom.
That’s not fair. It will take years until I recover from that.

Better late than never…

Here we are. The Informica Blog.

Who is behind this?

My Name is Christian Tillmanns and I am one of the founders of Informica of Switzerland. The other can present himself.

Another Blog, my god, was that necessary?

Duno. Is there already a blog about IBM Smart Business stuff? Nope. Don’t think so. We are the first.

Why the heck IBM Smart Business?

You will find out.

Only smart Business? How boring.

I can and will probably annoy you with other stuff. I am sure you always wanted to discuss the ball and string problem, settling with power or RSV and the 72 degrees offset on the R22/44.

… oh, BTW, IBM Smart Business and Lotus Foundations. Have I told you allready, that this blog is running on a Lotus Foundations Appliance?

Pretty easy to setup, once you know how to. Since I hate adminstration with a passion you only can dream of, it normaly takes me a very long time to figure out everything. For administrative stuff I have a very short attention span. That’s why you will see this blog changing constantly, while I find out, what I can do with it.

Now, how to setup a WordPress blog on Lotus Foundations.

1. Create a team for the blog. I choose … who would believe it … blog.

2. Create a Virtual Webserver: Webserver => Virtual Webserver Tab => Add virtual Webserver and fil in the URL, you can leave the IP address and choose the team.

3. Copy the downloaded WordPress Files in the www folder of your blog team.

4. RTFM from here

There is a slight problem with the autoinstallation of themes, but there is probably a solution for this.