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.

Sogeti TeamPark – the first book

Ok, I have done it. I read „From crowd to community“ from Sogeti.

Even though Sogeti uses Connections, they don’t mention it once (neither Facebook BTW). That’s understandable, since the book is about the method of how social software works. In the end, I think this first book is helpful. I helps us to understand, how communities work and what we have to tell customers, what they can expect from using social software … and the traps.
Social software isn’t for everybody. If the boss is a control freak, he/she is not going to survive this. To be effective as an innovation tool, you have to let users do more or less what they want with it. Too many rules and censorship will kill it before it even takes of.
Most likely, the business value will not come over night. It might take easily two years until a momentum is established to change the way people collaborate. That is a long time. To long for many I-am-only-interested-in-share-holder-value types of managers.
Actually the Connections entitlement that comes with Notes – Profiles and Files (?) – could be just the thing for starting, wouldn’t it be so difficult to install and administer.
Another trap is content. You need content from the start, but telling the boss he should have a blog now and should not be afraid of critique, probably isn’t easy.
Immediate value can come from wiki’s, but that’s obvious … as long as there is content from the start.
Is it something for small companies? Depends, could be, Sogeti means rather not. I am not convinced that they are right. Files, wiki’s, sharing, bookmarking could will help in any size of company, but profiles? When you know each other pretty well? The activity stream could help a lot.
If you could yous it externally, for example with customers, it could help more, but there the price of connections is prohibitive.
Social software for enterprise is here to stay. It is cool. It works. It helps. It can help to improve business but it is not an easy way to get there.
If you are into social software, read this book and then repeat after me: „A social software project is not an IT project„.
IT is the smallest part and should absolutely not have the lead. Marketing, RD, PR, HR, C-Level or what ever, but not IT.

Oh … now that … bugger …

I am looking into going to the cloud and finding a solution for a small Notes customer. Smart Cloud (TSFKALL – The Service Formally Known As LotusLive) is an obvious choice for me. Now see what happens:

I went to the lotuslive page and found that there is allready a page for IBM Smart Cloud for Social Business … click


Oh, I can get a 60 trial:

Click and …

Dear IBM

You really don’t make it easy for me to promote your cloud service.

The limits of social Websites…

I just looked at my profile in LinkedIn and realised, that whatever search algorithm they are using, it is pretty much useless.

On the right side, you get that little window with groups I may like. That is rather hilarious.

I got: Car Wash Owners & Operators – Does my car have a LinkedIn account and gives me hints about feeling neglected?

Women Business Owner – Sorry, I lack a qualification which I will not achieve in the near future.

Coin Laundry Association – What?

Did you know about those?

Fly Fishing with CEOs
This is an exclusive group of CEOs who enjoy fly fishing in world class fisheries.

Aha. These CEOs don’t want to mingle with lesser live forms. How silly is that. BTW I don’t fish. Never even tried it.

Or groups about self storage.

… and more. They are completely of. My profile is about flying and Notes&Domino. There are tons of possible groups about helicopters but I don’t get not one suggestion on five pages.


On the bottom is that part with my collegues from former companies I worked for. LinkedIn doesn’t even get the companies right. The name is right, but that’s about it. I don’t think they even got the correct country. I don’t remember any Indians working for my former employer. It believe it should be possible to link the name of the company and the country, or get the difference between flying and fly fishing, to get better results.
Can’t be that difficult, or is it?

I don’t know about Xing or FaceBook. Are they any better?


How to handle Facebook, Website and other social tools effectively – any idea?

I need help (professional help for my brain … yeah, I know). I had a bit of a shock this weekend. About a year ago, Swiss companies where not looking at social media, now it completely turned around. Already half of them are using it. It looks like we have to jump on the band wagon. (An please forgive my ignorance, but I just can’t get the hang of Facebook I even deleted my personal account a few years ago – or better deactivated, since Facebook seems to keep your account for a while).

Now, I would like to know from you, how to handle all those social tools today. For years it was just the website – which was hard enough to keep up to date – now we have Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and whatever else comes up in the future. It is becoming almost a full position for a social media specialist, but if you are a small company that’s out of the question. Where do you put your energy, in your companies Facebook page or your website? Or is it rather Twitter? Are there tools, to write stuff once and have them at two different places? Would you mix a Facebook page and your website?
A lot of questions, but I try to find a way to work effectively with those tools, but I don’t even know where to start.

People are different … Social Computing in Switzerland

I just read some articles about social computing in Switzerland. One was an interview with the CEO of Xing Switzerland, Robert Beer. He thinks, networking through social websites works a bit different in Switzerland.
One thing got me. The Swiss don’t like hard selling. If you do telemarketing, they rather tell you to send documentation then just say „Leave me alone“. I told IBM that, when we had that telemarketing campaign that failed miserably. We had quite a few people that agreed to come to an event but we had 100% no show. Why? They just wanted to be polite. (I hope someone of OnChannel reads this).

The next article was about social software in companies. They don’t use it for internal communication and only 7% of the CEO’s of consulting companies use Xing or Facebook and only 4% of the financial companies. There is no sign, that younger employees use social media lot’s more. We like to meet in person or use email. The later is common, but meeting face to face give us a good excuse for longer meetings over lunch – in Germany you can be happy if anyone thinks about buying sandwiches – and opening a nice bottle of wine. Makes selling a lot nicer. But it looks like we do something right. Switzerland has more Global 500 companies per-capita then the US and many US companies move their headquarter over here. Officially because of taxes, but we have a lot more good restaurants to drop in over lunch then anybody else. It’s obvious, that when you move here, you have to support local businesses.

You know what? I rather have 5 friends at my table and cook for them, then 500 in Facebook and all I do is small talk.