Did it. I am certified in Structogram 1, 2 and 3

The last few month we looked for new products. Accidentely, our strategic Partner PAVONE joined forces with Structogram to create the frist CRM that allows you to manage „soft factors“ of your customers and individualize the marketing approach. Structogram is a scientific approach to the knowledge of the human nature. It is even certified in some countries as advanced training for medical personel. Structogram has been around for quite a long time and is available in many countries.
Informica, Ecoville and Inforga created the Structogram CRM competence center and now we are the only organisation in the world – apart from Pavone – that is certified to sell the PAVONE Structogram CRM. Yes, I am proud. The training was very interesting and sometimes very, very funny. I got to learn a lot about me and it does already help in my private and business live.
The last two days we attended the last training sessions required and they were held by the two Structogram master trainers, who had the idea of the CRM. For years they trained a method for optimizing the marketing process, but they always felt, they lacked the IT tool, to work with the method. Now they are using it already in their daily business. And this is important for the yellow bleeders. It’s based on Notes/Domino and they love it. As ever with a CRM, it took a while until everybody saw the power of it, but now they are hooked. PAVONE did a amazing job in implementing the Structogram method in its latest PAVONE Sales CRM and delivered an easy to use system – despite being a highly blue company speaking in Structogram terms 😉
And one of the most important features the thing as is – you guessed – offline capability. That’s something the competition will struggle with for a long time. For anybody out on the road, meeting customers, this is and has always been the big advantage. Now we just have to drop hints to PAVONE that the iPad is the perfect hardware for a customer meeting.


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.

Impressed by LS 2011? Nope, not really

I just watched the Opening Session of LS 11 and since I am a real fan of Notes I expected something incredible. Unfortunately, they talked more about social analytics and other stuff I don’t really get, that I was a bit bored after a while. Notes Next may be a nice new client, but I doubt it. The screen wasn’t very good, though.
I just hoped for more. For the SMB market this is too heavy to digest. It is neither easy to set up nor easy to maintain and not enough out of the box stuff.

I am going to get the beta. That’s for sure. I hope the darn thing convinces me of a good future.

The real funny part was, when Sandy Carter talked about marketing.

Concrats to the winners. Good Job.

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.

Notes on Mac … it‘s getting worse

I have been using Notes on the Mac for more than 18 month … and I begin to hate it.
I started with 8.5, got 8.5.1 and now I have 8.5.2 FP1 which is the worst.
I upgraded the memory, that helped a bit but not a lot.

When it starts up I get this absolutely useless window „Lotus Notes is starting“ and it comes all the way to the front. But I don‘t need to see this window, as long as the Notes icon in the dock jumps up and down… which isn‘t needed either. Most other applications just don‘t care.

Boy it‘s slow. Notes in Windows 7 in Fusion is a lot faster.

It has the annoying habit to refresh a view right when you switched to another application and it comes to the front again after a few seconds. Can you imagine when you are typing something in the google search and suddenly you look at Notes again. That just sucks.
FP1 made my CRM (Pavone Enterprise Office 9, the best I know) unusable. I had to get an lss file to  fix it. Imagine that problem with a normal user without a Designer?
My menu bars are full of buttons who appear at least twice. I can‘t get them fixed, because in the settings you don‘t see any button at all. It‘s just broken.
There is an issue with big views. You can‘t scroll them normally. It just stops somewhere. The only possibility left is scrolling slowly with the arrow key and then after a moment it stops completely and you have to close and reopen it.
If you want to have Notes up front again, you can‘t just can click at the icon as with any other application and it comes to the front. Not Notes. You have to use Exposé.

I really like Notes (I always like the underdog), but if it wasn‘t for Pavone, I would probably switch to another mail client. I really begin to understand users who get annoyed by little things that just don‘t work or are awkward. For years and years I never had these big problems other users report. Notes just worked but after 18 month of using Notes on a Mac I am just about loosing my patience … and my wife says I have a lot.

Update: Thanks Julian. Deleting the bookmark.nsf helped. Why I use the FP1? I hoped it would fix some of the things I don’t like. Silly me.

But I forgot another thing I don’t like. Often when I switch from Notes to another application like Firefox, the Mac menu bar – the one with the apple – keeps showing the Notes menu. I have to move the cursor over the Menu bar to make appear the Firefox menu.

IBM’s Domino/Notes market – Let’s face it, it’s a cash cow.

What did I learn from my article about IBM’s and Microsoft’s market share? At least that nobody told me how the market share calculation really works. There are two numbers: 47’000 companies (down from 60’000 about 5 years ago) and a total of 192 million Notes licenses sold (up from 143 million about 5 years ago). That’s not really helpful. Let’s leave it at that. But that made me think about the future of Notes/Domino in general. The yellow bubble is groaning about IBM’s almost non existent marketing effort for Notes. Why isn’t IBM promoting Domino/Notes as we think it should? Do they really know what they are doing? Is there a plan? To find out I dusted of some of my marketing books and tried figure out, what strategy IBM is following. It looks like, they know more or less, what they are doing.
If they have a plan, Lotus Notes/Domino is a cash cow today. Or in other terms, it is a mature product and the product life cycle is closer to the end, then to the start. That is not a bad thing by itself, but it is a something we have to accept. IBM is showing standard behavior. It is not investing heavily in marketing because it does not make sense. IBM is continuing improving Notes/Domino to keep the customer base happy. Sometimes there is even a big win, but all in all, sales are sliding downwards. That is something completely normal in a product life cycle. We will see that happening with MS Office, Exchange and Sharepoint, too one day.

What would I do with that cash cow? I would milk it to the last drop and do gradual improvements and then kill it. But I would grow a new beast at the same time. That’s (from my point of view) what IBM is doing right now. I only think, that they are a bit late in the game. They should have started to build a replacement product much earlier. But it is possible, that Workplace should have been that replacement. Is project Vulcan part of that completely new product? I don’t know, but I hope it is.

If I had to design a replacement product I would do quite a few things, which my BPs probably wouldn’t like.
I would build an (almost) completely new product and cut as many legacy connections as possible. Fast, good looking and widely available.
I would provide a migration tool, but I would really strip especially the client from ballast. Is it really necessary to have 6 or 7 different programming languages? I don’t think so. One good one would be sufficient. RAD does not seem to attract a lot of sales. In the end, the admins kill RAD because they definitely don’t want every user to develop it’s own little app (at least the admins IBM is talking to).
I would want a client that lets me not only organise mails, but also calendar entries, office documents, sms, mms, chats or just anything that contains information which is necessary for my work and preferably I want to have the stuff offline and encrypted.
I would add VOIP as a standard feature.
I want to see all my documents under the customer and supplier and friend and tag and project and whatever or in a calendar view. Let’s get rid of folder structures in file systems or mail applications. We don’t need that, it never worked. It was and is the biggest data cemetery in the known universe.
I would want to add addresses by drag and drop from my and others address book to a document regardless if it is an email, sms, letter, fax, blog entry or whatever else and I want to decide AFTER having written the document, how I want to send it.
I would make the new client modular. For example for free without a server and mail, Facebook and calendar only, but fast (somebody remembers NotesBuddy? I liked that one a lot) and then add whatever else is needed (at a very reasonable fee…).
I would add MAPI support to client and server.
I would add complete iCal and CalDav support.
I would add a simple back up functionality to client and/or server.
I would integrate as many online services as possible.
I would add an easy way to use several email accounts.
I would provide a free online calendar access for everybody using my client. Now users could just use free POP accounts and still have the calendar sharing possibility.
… and I could go on.
Most of these elements are already around but nobody adds it up to a complete solution.

Lotus was always ahead of Micro$oft, but they keep up. Now they add offline support for Sharepoint thanks to Groove. That was one of the best features of Notes/Domino.
Let’s face it. All the features we always thought were so incredible cool did not stop customers from migrating to Outlook/Exchange and nothing else will stop that until IBM comes out with something new.

We need something exciting, never seen before and useful to about everyone (for my 7 year old daughter I want a „Hello Kitty“ Theme)… a new rising star if IBM wants to beat Microsoft. IMHO that will be the way to success.

But… and that is big BUT. Can IBM do this? Big companies have the tendency to be not very innovative. Bureaucracy and internal competition are the killers. Microsoft is the best example for this. They almost always only copy what others have done before. IBM is better, but not a lot. The most patents every year but not many new products. Evolution yes, innovation less.
Let’s keep the fingers crossed, that IBM really knows what it is doing.

What‘s market share in IBM/Microsoft Terms?

When Daimler announced the switch from Notes to Outlook, somebody mentioned a market share of Domino/Notes of 21% in Germany. I wondered where they got that number from.
I started to crunch a few numbers myself and first looked at my home market. There are about 400 more or less active Domino customers. Switzerland has about 300‘000 companies with roughly 40‘000 of a size needing a mail server. That‘s a market share of 1%. And that is being nice, since almost everyone of those companies have mail and use some sort of mail server, either their own or something „in-the-cloud“.
Globally IBM has 47‘000 Domino customers. Even if they were all in the US it would also be a market share of about 1%. What do they count? Don‘t tell me that they count user licenses. That would be statistical nonsense, since not every element of the sample takes a decision to use Notes or Outlook. There are not 145 million decisions for Notes, only 47‘000. Now what are they counting? I don‘t have a clue. Servers? That would be unfair, since you need many more Exchange servers then Domino servers for the same number of users. Global 500 companies only? Or enterprise accounts?
Now what? Until somebody tells me, how they make the market share up, I stick with my estimation of a global market share of 1% for Lotus. I know, this number is not fair, because I also count companies which have just a few applications left.
Now let‘s see if somebody can explain, how the market share is calculated. In a second post, I will write about the results and what to do with it.

Now that was fun today … and sweet!

Today was an event, I was looking forward to. SNOUG-SR (Swiss Notes User Group Swiss Romand) had it’s second reunion in 2010 today. Guess what, it was great. Why?

The location: We where all invited to Camille Bloch. One of the most famous chocolate makers in Switzerland. Ragusa, Torino are their its main brands. It is a small company with 100 to 200 employees – depending on the season.
In the begining, Michael Snijders, head of IT, introduced us to the history of Camille Bloch. Apart from the fact, that Monsieur Camille Bloch set up this company in the Bernese Jura, where most of you wouldn’t want to be buried, they have quite an interesting IT history. They bought their first IBM system 1948. This is not a typo. They have been IBM customers for 62 years. I don’t think that there many companies, that have an „IT“ history that long and we are talking about an SMB. Today they are using Notes, Traveler, Sametime and Quickr. If possible always the latest release. They are looking into Alloy and UC.
Their Domino servers run on Ubuntu. I asked Christophe Boss, the main Domino admin (I wonder what nick name he has in the company), why they use an unsupported plattform. His answer:“ I am the support!“ For Camille Bloch, Ubuntu is the most cost effective solution. It looks like it runs great. Boss talked about a few issues in the beginning, but he solved them all. (yes, I will pester him, until he gives me the documentation). Now they are thinking about moving Traveller and Quickr to Linux, too.
After the introduction Snijders showed us a Box. An original Notes 3 box with the floppy disks still in their little sealed plastic sachet (If you don’t know what floppies are, ask your grannie).
After the intro, we had a very interesting speach about the Notes NRPC Parser by Andrew Magermann.
And then came the part, everybody came for, a tour of the company with „degustation“ in the end.
After the Lunch we had for 12 bucks at Camille Bloch, we talked about other interesting stuff. Teamstudio showed of some of their products and IBM SR had some very interesting news about the IBM/Lotus road map. They showed the latest screenshots of project Vulcan and if that is the future of Notes, I feel a bit better. It is cool. I mean not just cool. Cool cool. And if until then, that dreadful campaign „Lotus weiss“ is over and forgotten, Lotus actually has a chance to be on the map again (in case of getting a marketing campaing going that deserves that name).
„THE BOSS“ showed us the Snapps QuickR app for his iPad. Now I need an iPad … oh, and QuickR, too.

The Snoug Team: The SNOUG SR reunions are always free. Everybody just does it for the fun of it. During lunch we found out, that this was anyway the most cost effective way to do it.
I have to thank the SNOUG team for the wonderful idea to go to Courtelary and when I drove back and I could see the tipps of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau in the light of the sinking sun. Just a great day.