IBM? Why?

I try to register for Verse.
No success.
For the umpteenth time.
With several email addresses.
Since last summer.
Not that I need it, it just about going to the cloud with IBM or not?
I would at least like to test it.

 

IBM Verse Freemium is DEAD

What can change in a week. Last week in Zürich Scott Souder said IBM Verse Freemium will not be a crippled version. So much for that. Nice move from IBM to stab Scott in the back. Now it is a preview version that is so useless, that IBM might what to turn that server of again. That would save a few bucks in electricity.

IBM Verse Support Forum (thank’s to Karl-Henry Martinsson)

IBM really does not get it (… again). Somehow Vowes comment about the Village Idiot comes to mind.
Let’s recapitulate what IBM wants to achieve with Verse:
Take on Gmail
With what? A preview version? 24 mails in 24 hours? 500 MB quota? An unfinished product? No migration tool? No signature? 500 MB files? Oh, you say, that is only for the „Enterprise“ version, not for freemium – ups sorry – preview? And with what they want to convince people to move? With a preview version that isn’t even powerful enough to show the really cool bits?
IBM you just made Google very happy. But I doubt, that they ever took you very serious.

500’000’000 users
OK, I suppose somehow the zeros got multiplied due to the bad acoustics in Zürich. 5’000’000 users would be less unrealistic target, but a failure. With this preview version IBM will not even get those.

And than we have that:
Jeff Schick says that mail would be CO-HOSTED in Europe. And where is the other server? I suppose, were it is convenient to read all the mails.

It is really depressing. Every time I think IBM might starts to understand a few things how the world works, they blow it in the end. Every time. Amazing.

Right, it’s over. They might move a few existing customers to Verse. A few million seats, that’s it. Just like any other small hoster. We can move on now. The revolution has never happened.

Soul or Numbers – Sports for Developers

A year ago Vowe started walking. Today he is doing at least a hundred kilometers a week.
This is great. It certainly changed his life. If you are a „numbers athlete“ you can do that, too. I am not.
Also a year ago I felt I had to do something. I sensed, that I wasn’t up to speed anymore while moguls skiing. I have never been really fat. 10 years ago I was at my worst with slightly over 80 kilo, today I am down to 75 again. My BMI was never out of the normal range. Therefore I never had the urge to do a lot … until my belly started to wobble in the moguls. Eeeeeeks. My friends suggestion to buy other higher skiing trousers to hold it, wasn’t actually the solution I was looking for.
About 5 years ago I started to do more and more mountain biking tours. Even in winter. Not when it is really hot. I am not the hardcore biker who is looking for the hardest tours he can find. I just enjoy the ride and look at the country side.
Since the monsters are old enough now, that they not need constant supervision, my wife and I started windsurfing again. But in Switzerland, that isn’t a sport we can do on a regular basis. Windsurfing is limited to holidays and is the only reason anyone can make me go to a beach for more than a few hours. No lying in the sun for me. I hate this with a passion you can only dream of and with my skin I rather stay in the shadow.
Biking going up is boring and it isn’t using the whole body. Downward it does, but only for a short time.

I never measure anything. Every time I tried to clock my biking rounds, I forgot to turn the stopwatch off. It isn’t for me and anyway, I always try to find new routes. I don’t like repetitive movements like jogging either and I definitely can’t imagine to run on a conveyor belt in a gym (outside are roads and trails in woods, go there). One day somebody I talked to about biking, asked me, if I also liked it, when everything starts to hurt. Hell, NO! I don’t go into trance either.
You will not see me with any smart device that tracks anything I do. I am not interested in that. When I go skiing, I even „forget“ my phone. Leave me alone when I am doing what I love. I can’t explain what it does to me, if you don’t do it yourself and in that case we would not need words anyway. I am totally outside the world of „I beat my own record“.
When I go skiing with people who do all that endurance stuff and brag about their latest marathon, it’s always them, who crawl back to the car on all fours because they are exhausted, never me. I always have to wait for them. I don’t need a break after only 90 minutes of skiing. They do. I don’t complain about the thin air at 3300m. Though my physical fitness isn’t as bad it seems, but most of my advantage comes from the thousands of hours I invested to become a technically better skier. Something that is hard to measure.
I am a soul athlete (the words of a friend). I cherish the movement of my legs going as fast as possible through the moguls or going down that really steep slope on Mont Gelé in Verbier in fresh powder (the front side towards Atlas I). I love it when I go over rocks on single trails (downward – fast – biking). I am in heaven when I am sliding over small waves and all the forces are in balance (windsurfing). I want my brain completely focussed on that moment. Not thinking about anything else.
(BTW, all the fitness does not save you from sleep deprivation. You can not train to use less sleep. You might feel strong like King Kong Friday afternoon, but you still have the mental capacity of a legally drunk).
But still, I needed something to fill the gaps between winter and summer holidays and something where I am forced to go. And I wanted to learn something new.

Kung Fu!

To be exact, Chin Woo Kung Fu. That was the thing I started a year ago. And since I am a bit timid (stop laughing, Pierre), I asked monster no. 1, if she wanted to come. And this is really cool. My daughter and I are learning something new together. Not father-shows-child-how-to-do and he get’s it all wrong, because he never learned it correctly. I don’t teach my kids skiing, I am not a ski instructor. I wouldn’t even teach my kids flying and I am a CFI. My daughter is certainly better than I, but I passed the last test, too.
Kung Fu as we do it, isn’t about fighting … mostly. It is more like athletic dancing which happens to be a fighting style. It is all about the movement. When the whole class does a form together, that looks rather cool. It trains every single muscle I know of. It stretches everything. It trains the sense of balance. It uses my brain, because I have to remember all the details of every move, which isn’t as easy as it may sound (sometimes I see the pain of desperation in our trainers eyes). Apparently after 10’000 times doing a move, you don’t have to concentrate as much anymore and can start to learn the move correctly.
Kung Fu is something for everyone. In my class we range from 7 or 8-year-old kids to old geezers like me. In between is everything and every gender. We even have handicapped people. There is no „who has the nicest outfit“ because we have all the same clothes.
After one year I can say it is worth every penny (or „Rappen“ as they say north of me).
I have less problems with my back. My belly fat moves slowly upwards. My joints do way better. My knees are stronger and most important – I ski better again.
It also gave me a few insights into society. Did you know, that above a certain age, you fade into the background? You become invisible to younger people? Let me explain.
Last autumn, another guy from my age group was missing for three weeks. I asked the trainer if he knew anything about it. One girl (age about 18) asked who we were talking about. We describe him to her. Name, height, shoe size and so on. She had never seen him. The next week he was back again and I pointed him out to her. She just said, that the two of us looked the same (certainly not!). That means, the other geezer and I are just some three-dimensional shadows she avoids to run into, otherwise we do not exist. Thank you very much. And the theory is consistent. The female age group between 16 and 25 does not even talk to us or does the partner exercises with us. That brings me to the inevitable conclusion, that I am old now. I can shovel my grave and order the tombstone.

If you are like me a soul athlete, interested in the movement and not into counting and you need something that gets you going, try Kung Fu. And at my age you can even claim that you are so fast, some only see your shadow. And in your CV Kung Fu just looks cool.

ConnectEd in Zürich – Old Boys meeting

I am not going to bore you with a lot of technical news about IBM Verse and stuff, but first, I want to thank the IBM partners and distributors, who actually run the show. IBM provides rooms and some speakers, the partners do all the rest, as I was told. Great job, really.
This time, there were more C-Level tracks half as long as a technical session. I suppose that was to allow for the lower attention span of the C-Levels, therefore I will do the same thing here and give those with a lot of meetings waiting for, a management summary:

MANAGEMENT SUMMARY
ConnectED Zürich: 5 march 2015
IBM Verse: Very good. Strongly suggest to consider replacement of Microsoft Stack.
IBM Watson Analytics: Great technology. Not available from any other vendor.
IBM Notes: Will be supported for the forseeable future. Consider to move to Verse anyway.
IBM Connections: By all accounts and opinions even from some Microsoft Partners, still the better product. Consider to move as soon as possible.
END OF MANAGEMENT SUMMARY

Having now reduced the number of readers by half we can go to a more in-depth look.
IBM Switzerland must have reduced its workforce significantly again, because half of the building is now used by other companies. That isn’t really good news. And the roof leaks. Really. I got hit by drops twice during cocktail hour.
I and others had the feeling, we were at an old boys/girls event.

There are one or two things I found rather interesting.
Scott Souder stressed the point, that Verse isn’t just about mail (we have heard that before … for about 25 years) and IBM is looking into making classic Notes apps available in the browser without a plugin. As we were told, this is a sky-high priority, since most browsers could not care less about plugins and IE is as crappy as ever (I did not see a single hand, when Scott asked who used it). He also said, that we all have to realise, that especially Notes is 25 year old. There are things in there that make it hard, to make it a modern client. The browser is just the better and easier tool for the future. But Notes 9.0.2 is coming and a 64bit version for OSX, too (Scott said we shouldn’t tweet certain things he said, that would get him fired: Sorry, Scott, I forgot which, I didn’t tweet it and you say that every time).
Domino, XPages and Bluemix are really something to be considered. It really can ease some pain. IBM thinks, it is a tool to get new developers on the platform. We have heard that before, too. I rather think it is also a great tool to migrate slowly of Domino. I just wonder about the OpenNTF tools and Bluemix.
The thing that let my jaw drop to the floor was this: Jeff Schick apparently said, that IBM wants to have 500’000’000 users in the Verse cloud … half a billion … 5 times 10 to the power of 8. Err…. Dear Jeff, do you realize that the world has roughly 7.3 billion human beings? Only about 40% use the internet: 2.92 billion. Half a billion would be about 12% market share. Notes has less than half a percent. You would have to convince a few big ones to move to Verse. I see a few hurdles to this idea.

(Disclaimer: Below is what I have seen until now. It is subject to change by IBM and I have not seen the pricing. So I might be completely and utterly wrong.)

First: Not everybody has the 500-emails-per-day-problem. Many live happily and stress free with their current installation. Even if it is an Exchange server.

Second: Do you really think companies would trust a computer to filter their mail? Companies (and there are many) whose administrators day after day go through the quarantined spam and look for mails that might be important?

Third: We don’t need another email address. The domain of the free Verse is @ibmverse.com. From a marketing point of view, that is a nightmare. It sounds like a beta domain (apart from that the name „Verse“ itself is a marketing nightmare, for example in French „je verse“ is pouring something and in German it sounds just awful).

Forth: It is really sad. Again IBM does not understand small companies. Nobody will move from their free or almost free @bluewin.ch (change countries and providers as appropriate) address to a free @ibmverse.com address, if there isn’t a huge advantage. 500 MB file space isn’t enough. I think IBM should match Google Drive.
For small and micro companies there isn’t that big advantage that makes them change. None whatsoever.
Every single time IBM tries to get small companies in the boat, they mess up … every f+%&/* time (my blood pressure … breathe slowly). I can’t see any reason, why this time it should be different.

Fifth: IBM claims every time they announce some new feature for Worse – ups sorry, just the sound of it, I mean Verse – competitors come up with something similar. The only difference is: The competitors deliver. They are here right now.

And last: Nobody understands Watson. You can’t show it really. How do you want to sell that? There will always come up the argument, that users can do that with rules. I use that single button on my apple mail quite often and that works nicely for me. And just for the record. Most don’t understand „People centric“ neither.

Dear IBM, the Verse offering does not show a USP that makes Tom, Harry and Dick/Sally, Susan and Diana move. None. Nada. No „wana have“. I did not say it is bad, oh no, it is great, but as ever IBM marketing su….. isn’t good enough. You have to come up with an offer that is so good, that about 2 billion users might consider a change (By the way, how about a run-your-business offering for business partners? I am looking into moving my this blog and mail to something else. But I want to keep my domain).

I have seen the Verse ad for the second time. The first time was in a blog post. It isn’t „everywhere“ as was claimed. At least not here. But Here and again, IBM fails again to „SHOW THE PRODUCT“ as what it is. If you don’t know, it is about email, you just wonder what it is all about and the ad was clearly targeted towards big companies.
IBM isn’t on the radar of small companies. Just isn’t. Not here, not there. Nowhere. It would be IBM’s duty to go to the small companies to change that. But this is hard work and by far not as interesting as the Global 500. Which have their act together and don’t need IBM to explain it to them.
Since I am generally a nice person (some say), I give you an idea, what I think the offering should look like and makes it different from others.
A difference would make: „Pay once, use forever“.
For example. I just need freebie Verse but I want my own domain. I give you 20 bucks and that’s it. Don’t need no support. I can point my MX record to your server myself.
Need another user with the same domain? 20 bucks.
Need guest access to files? 20 bucks.
Migration of old mail and calendar entries? 100 bucks (20 from Notes).
Just add features that are not important for everyone and I pay you if I need it … once, because there is just one change once.
Give me a choice.
If I want something that asks for more space or computing power? I would pay for it every year. That is fair. But just because I want my own domain, I don’t see, why I should rent that right from you.
I want an offering where I have the choice and the difference between free and full service isn’t a 1000 bucks. Sometimes I just want a salad and not the whole menu.
And now the last bit. I don’t want to be the product. Not even if I use the free Verse. Therefore NOBODY touches my stuff, I don’t know personally. Make that clear to everyone. And even more important. I want my stuff here in my own country.
IBM I make you an offer. If you get the offering right, I will personally stand on 10 Saturdays in 10 different shopping centers and on 10 Thursdays at SMB exhibitions around Switzerland. You just have to provide the marketing material and your name. I give you my time. The exact terms would depend what we agree on, but you don’t have to pay me for those 20 days or more than 100 hours of hard work. Deal? That should once and for all show, if Verse is the product for SMB.
By the way! Where is the business partners place in all that?
So far so good. Scott Souder, HP and Louis Richardson were fun to see as ever.
Other memorable sessions – because I went there – were those of the University of Zürich and the one of Klaus Bild about SDI (formally known as TDI).
The switch of the University of Zürich to Notes is one of the big success stories of the last years. Nobody knows about it, which is another IBM marketing failure.
They have rather interesting problems. 158 institutes that can do what they want. Central IT Services can’t even do something, if one of the institutes decides they want their own stuff. The institutes are completely free, as it should be at a research university. And they have from Amigas to the latest Apple gadget everything and it has to work (well somehow limited in case of an Amiga). And only Notes/Domino can do this. Now did we ever doubt that?
During the speech Dr. Roberto Mazzoni wasn’t all nice and cheery with IBM. Scott was sitting in the audience but probably didn’t get everything, since it was in German. I suppose he heard it before. Today the University of Zürich runs a huge Domino/Notes infrastructure for about 40’000 users. All that with just 2 Admins. Amazing isn’t it? And that isn’t all. The Uni-ZH has added Connections, too (needs a bit more manpower to keep it alive though).
Two words of warning came from Sandra Bühler of Belsoft, the company that helped the University: If you use Traveller on a Microsoft Server, be aware that Microsoft might come after you and wants you to buy CAL’s for your users. There is probably something in the fine print that says you must. Therefore: Linux. It’s anyway the better solution.
IBM always says to engage HR in the deployment of Connections. Don’t! They don’t have the time and „resources“ to do it.
My last breakout session was about SDI. Google it and you find „SmartCloud Desktop Infrastructure“ or „Software Defined Infrastructure“. We were getting a closer look at „Security Directory Integrator“ or better known as „Tivoly Directory Integrator“. When is IBM ever going to stop the product renaming circus? It does not make sense at all.
Anyway, it is still a great tool, but IBM should invest a few bucks to get some limitations fixed. It is very annoying that one has to write the whole XML code on a single line. That line can easily be a long as a cargo train. Is carriage-return-new-line such a big problem?

That was about it. I am really a bit annoyed, that I never got the chance to test Verse in its early stages. I have registered several times and never got a reply.
Whenever it comes out, I want to test it thoroughly. Is anybody out there game to do a group test? Sending emails to myself is a bit boring, but if anybody wants to find out what is all the fuss about, we could do it together. Some real life testing.

We will see what happens next.

 

Well, it’s a Verse

I am as ever late in the game. It took me a while to digest the whole Mail Next/Verse thing. Actually, because the whole two hours thing was kinda boring. Half an hour of demo, the rest futile attempts to explain the new way to work. Maya was cute, though.
I am not sure what I should think about Verse. On one hand, it does have a few features, I always wanted. Some of them I even did for customers and me years ago. I always thought that folders are a waste of time and I created people centric views, that showed new mails on persons. Unfortunately, I was limited by Notes and my own capabilities. I always dreamed of taking apart the whole mail client thing and attach it to a bigger picture. Things like blog responses and tweets, SMS and Chat, LinkedIn and Facebook are all just information’s that flow in. I don’t want to change applications, just to do read a LinkedIn post. Therefore I am a lousy social platform user. It never fit me. Does Verse change that? Well, I hope so. Does it have the WOW-factor I have been missing from IBM for so long? Not quite; almost. It looks good though. Interestingly it looks a lot like the first screenshots from january. Not at all like the examples I saw in april/may. What goes around, comes around.
IBM claims it is just the start of a whole new approach to collaboration. We have heard that before. We will see in january, what else IBM has to show.
IBM claims that it is compliant with EU and Swiss(!) laws. That does not mean a lot. By US-law, IBM has no way to protect our stuff here in a way that „they-who-read-all-the-mails“ can not read it as long as it is in IBM’s cloud. And as if „they“ ever would have cared about anybody elses laws. Therefore, will there ever be an on premises version? I doubt it. Even though the panel that was invited yesterday, was all in favor of Notes and wants to go on with it, it looks to me, that they did not realise, this isn’t Notes. There could be a Domino server somewhere in the back, but everything else will not run on Domino alone.
Maybe they know something more, or they just did not realise, that IBM wants them … in its cloud. BTW where was Scott Souder?
Even if there is an on premises version, I suspect it would be a crippled one. Anyway, without Connections, it would probably be useless. I can’t imagine IBM letting me connect to WordPress with MailN… sorry … Verse. Would be nice, though. CalDav? WebDav? No word about that either. Would have been nice to hear more about the technical side of that thing yesterday.
On the upside is the fact, that IBM seems to go for a new approach. Rather than asking customers what they want, IBM shows, what it can do. That’s more like Apple and way more innovative.
Is that the thing, IBM is betting on to get out of the swamp?

i Cringely: the Decline and Fall of IBM – a review

For quite a while I was working on a series of blog posts about the decline of Notes and Domino and then came this book. Damn, he was faster. But this book isn’t about Notes and Domino and I couldn’t say if Cringely even knows it, but it does not matter. Here is a bigger picture and it explains quite well, why Notes and Domino are on a sinking ship. It’s not only that Notes is under constant fire from outside, the whole IBM is a mess, if all what Cringely writes is only half-true.
I like the book. I said similar things before. But is the magnitude of stupidity that reigns in the ivory tower of IBM as bad? Sam was on the wrong track, but it looks like, the Road Kill 2015 is not going to stop soon and the C-level is following like lemmings.
Forbes has a nice article about it, too.
The whole problem with IBM turns around shareholder value, or rather the gamblers version of it. Even as a first year student, I knew shareholder value is not one of the clever ideas (according to Jack Welch, the most stupid and he should know), if you want a company to survive. It’s a good idea, if you don’t care about the company and all you want is more money. But that river will dry out eventually. It just does not work as a sustainable strategy.
From my point of view – you may call it idealistic – investors are people who give a company money to work with, to build on. They have a long-term view, because the investors believe in the company and the products. People like Ican, BlackRock and so on, are more like gamblers. They are not investors, because they do not invest. They want making money as fast as possible. Which means buying cheap and – now comes the important part – selling high in the shortest possible time. Only by selling the stocks, they actually make a lot of money. Dividends are just a nice to have on the way there and a way to move the stock price higher (read: the twenty bucks target of IBM in 2015). What comes after, isn’t their concern. If they leave a bloodless hull on their way to wealth, who cares. What amazes me most, is the way Sam thought, that the investors are a good thing for IBM. They buy stocks from outsiders and sell to outsiders. There is no money flowing into IBM. It is absolutely useless. The only reason to schmooze with them, were his own pockets, as Cringely points out. According to him, Sam did everything to get rich and get out … and on the way make his friends on Wallstreet happy.
What I find interesting about the investors, is their view about „their“ money. If it was „their“ money, it wouldn’t be in stocks, it would be a credit, where the company pays an interest and after a while the whole sum back. Capital stock is money you don’t get back from the company you invested in. That’s the whole point. It’s the companies own capital. But you get a dividend which is hopefully higher than the interest you would get from a credit. The only way to get your money back, is to sell the shares to somebody, who believes that this risk is worth taking at a certain price. That’s the stock market were the gamblers reign. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is wrong to use your power to influence companies to act in a way that hurts their business only to make money for gamblers, who have nothing to do with the company. Why the heck should IBM care about them? But it looks like, there is a whole generation of economists, that never saw the stupidity of shareholder value.

My profession – the economist, not the developer – is a lame one. We can’t do anything. We depend entirely on others to develop, build and sell products (I am not really one of them, because I can build stuff) but we are the clever ones that made a whole economic world revolve around us and we are very good at slapping each others backs. Yes, there are things we learn and can do, like organising, reorganising, book-keeping, all very important things, but we are nothing without the grunts on the shop floor, who turn the screw drivers.
Unfortunately, not many managers realise this.
Now the real clever ones think; yes, the grunts know a few things we don’t. How can we make them expendable anyway? How about knowledge management? If that works, we can fire the expensive grunts and hire cheap ones without loosing anything. Unfortunately it does not work, not even with IBM Connections. Because intuition, experience and creativity isn’t something you can store in a database.
Back to the book. IBM added 100’000 Indians, Brazilians and Chinese developers, managers and whatever else, and fired (or talked them into leaving) 100’000 Americans, Canadians, Germans, Swiss and others to cut cost. What I don’t get is the fact, that outsourcing developement, services and design is so last century. By now everybody knows that software written cheaply elsewhere by newbies without experience and proper (which means looooooong and expensive) training, will be easily 20 times more expensive, because of the errors which have to be rectified at home (from those few left, that still now how it works). That has been common knowledge for years and still is true today. But since my brothers and sisters of the economy schools do not have a clue about software or hardware development (they don’t, I gave many of them private lessons in excell programming. It was horrible) they probably really do not know about it. Another interesting effect of this is, that IBM seeded hatred against itself. Many fired IBMer will eventually turn against IBM and 100’000 ex-IBMers with a grudge is a lot of influence in the market.

Can Ginni turn the ship around? If she wants, but she will make a lot of gamblers angry, because it would mean to stop the Death March 2015 (said that before). She would have to stop borrowing money to pay for buying IBM shares. Invest IBM’s own money to make better products faster. I don’t agree with Cringely, that they have to be cheaper, but for a premium price you need premium products and services. It’s doable, but not like this. I get itching from the last sentence:

One thing is certain. Rometty will likely breathe a sigh of relief once her hands are no longer tied by it [the Roadkill 2015].

Why are her hands tied by it? Just because Sam had a this idea? And even if she does pull the 20$ off, who believes that after that she can do the right thing? By 2016 the gamblers want even more. It’s a never-ending story, if you are in bed with the gamblers, they will not let you off the hook. That is the reason why Tim Cook did not want to give in to Ican. He knows what happens. Fortunately Apple has so much cash left, that it almost looks like a good idea to give something back and since Apples stock can’t rise indefinitely, one day Apple had to pay a dividend. Every company has to look for its owners, but not for the price IBM is willing to pay.
The only solution for IBM is to throw the gamblers out. Which either means that Ginni looses her job or the situation is desperate enough, that even the most greedy gambler sees the writing on the wall, which means the stock price has fallen, despite the 20$ bucks. In that case the gamblers will leave and try their luck elsewhere. Ginni might still lose her job, but at least she has a chance to convince the remaining share holders that she has the right ideas to save IBM. On the other hand, if the stock price falls far enough, Apple could use its petty cash and buy IBM. Now wouldn’t that be nice?
The next thing that I have not seen to this extent are the management levels. Up to 13 from the shop floor to the boss. Oh my, what happened to KISS? What are these guys between level 2 and 11 doing? But wait, let’s crunch a few numbers. If each of the managers have just 2 others report to them – which would be silly – that would make 8’191 managers. Not that bad for IBM, but the lowest level would have about 100 grunts each. That’s too much. Let’s say it’s 3 per manager. That would make 797’161 managers. Obviously too much. You can’t invent that many job titles. There are probably quite a few dead ends in the reporting chain. Whatever, there must be a lot of spread sheet pushers in IBM.
When I think back about the last ten years, IBM constantly changed. Once it was services, today it’s software, people came and went, it was always a big surprise, who you would talk to next time. Products came and went. Big failures, small failures, name changes, changes back to the original name. It’s a mess and it has been for a decade.
Probably one of the more important reasons why Notes and Domino customers jump ship is, they are just fed up with IBM. Something I have probably underestimated. I should have learned from my own experience, when IBM took very nice prospective customers from me.
Ford once was in a similar position not too long ago. They made more money with financial transactions and forgot that they were a car maker, until it caught up with them. One day the CEO said: „We understand our troubles.“ How about that as a motto, instead of „Be essential“?

PS: I am now reading „A view from beneath the dancing elephant“
Looks like it goes in the same direction.

 

No really. What kind of evaluation license is this?

I made myself a Smart Cloud Engage(?) test account.
Now what I wanted to do, is invite somebody to work on a text outside „my“ company. First it is rather complicated until you get there. You can not invite somebody from outside by adding him on the document. You have to go through files and invite them first from there. Right there were your new document shows up (aaaarrrghhh).
When you just added somebody and click invite, you are informed, that you are not allowed to do that. The invitation will not be sent. What kind of usability is this?
Wana do that in Google Drive? Add an email address on the document, done. That is how it should work.

IBM you just won my Catch22 special award for annoying usability. If you don’t want somebody do something, tell him first, not after he did everything required.
Could somebody within IBM please call Apple for a course in usability? Might be worth it.

 

Mail-Next and a amazing change

First the rant. I am with Volker Weber and the annoying stuff one has to do to follow a web meeting with IBM.All started well until it actually started. I had an image but no sound. In the chat window phone numbers appeared. Toll for anybody outside the US or Canada. IBM, that’s not nice. Is anybody on another continent a lower life form?
I restarted the whole shabadoing and had to install the latest Java Version. A little window asks if I want to start the plugin which did not start anyway (just an empty window and nothing happens) or it started and did not say so. I continued without the plugin and had sound. I missed the first 15 Minutes due to a half backed web tool.

But it got interesting in the end. I am not going to describe all the things I saw. I suppose almost everybody got invited. What struck me is the new openness of IBM. Last year there was the big silence and now Kramer and Scott show even prototypes and concepts. Scott said about ten times not to take the current design as a final version.
It is either because IBM tries a new way of promoting Mail-Next or they are just not sure, if the concept holds its promise. But the curiosity how it will look, almost kills me.
Now IBM, let me tell you this: You set the bar high by promising a new mail experience that should help all of us to keep the mail flood under control. What I have seen, there are some ideas that immediately struck me as great. Some were more like „told you years ago“ and some were „great, but …“. All in all I can see some huge improvements for the mail experience.
The calendar bar (name might change … or will certainly regarding IBMs tradition of killing easy to remember names with multi word gibberish) is nice. I would like that, but I would not use it, because I still try to keep my calendar in my head. I always thought, that what it’s made for, remembering things. But it think that will help a lot of people managing their time better … as long as they can do it on the smart phone, too or the tablet for the matter.
I definitely liked the search. Finding not only mail but also links, attachments and other stuff is great. Adding the search to the bar as a single button is the way to go. I would even go a bit further and add a tagging possibility for adding stuff I know it belongs to the search but did not show up for whatever reason. That could replace folders. And to make the transition easier for every folder addicted user, call it something like smart folder. Click on it and it shows everything that is tagged and everything that is found in the search.
We can do what we want, folders are not going away. We can just stop pretending having found a better way. If we would change „Tagging“ to „add to Folders“, the acceptance would be much better. The Folder Cloud with different sizes for different numbers of mails, would be a good idea, too.
Many claim not using folders but still move everything to the old mail folder just to have an empty mail box. Why not just leave it in the inbox? Because it looks tidier. I just use one folder in Notes, the inbox. Works too … as long as I remember to clean the crap out once in a while. One day I am going to add that „remove from inbox“ button again.

Now what about the Notes client? Mail-Next is browser-based. The browser has become the universal framework for a lot of great tools. It works. If IBM wants to keep the Notes client, it should have the same user experience as the web client. With Mail Next for the first time the web version has surpassed the client version. Now what? Either kill it or find another solution. The only reason for the traditional client are the applications. In case of killing, the solution is either the browser plugin or move to XPages. The later even enhances the app experience and helps us developers make a few bucks. In case of matching the capabilities, IBM has a huge problem to solve. Expeditor can’t do all this very good. Rewriting to Notes client as a kind of browser and expeditor based client just to be able to do in a new client what you can do with all the other web tools already, does not make a lot of sense. What would you do? I think we all agree, building a new Notes client does not look very useful. Except IBM comes up with an idea, that is so awesome, that everybody is going to uninstall the browser immediately. We know the answer to that. And if some traditionalist thinks he can not live without a mail client, move down to Outlook and leave us alone.

I am looking forward to Mail Next and I am just now looking at Smart Cloud to get the last Domino server into its retirement home. And if I am really nice to everybody I can probably sneak my way into the advisory group and test Mail Next early.
And due to the NDA I could tease everybody that I have seen great stuff but can not talk about it.