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IBM Connect 2013 Day 4

2013-02-11 02:37:21    |    Blog

Finally I got around to sum up the last day of IBM Connect. And I will also give you my thoughts on why I think IBM has lost the plot, and is not in touch with their customer base.

Since I got in very late from the trip at Universal Studios I decided to try and sleep in and skip working out. I still couldn't get more than 5 hours of sleep, but that still meant I didn't get out of bed until almost 07.30.

However, my first session didn't start until 08.30, so there was no rush.

AD213: Lotus iNotes Customization - Make iNotes Your Own!
This was a session about how you can change the design of Inotes (Domino web mail) so that it can seamlessly be integrated into your company's web site's design.

The session was ok, but I keep being fascinated about how cumbersome it is to do stuff like this in IBM products. And naturally, this being IBM, it was done in a completely different way than the way you do it in IBM Connections.

It did give me some ideas, though.

GURU101: GURUpalooza!
This is an open session where you get to ask the speakers, partners and gurus of the Lotus and Domino community questions. It's very informal and you should be prepared to be taken the piss out of.

I got up and said I had two questions and asked if that meant I had to move over to a new mike when I asked the second question. I was told that this was the case, and was then promptly asked what my second question was. Yeah, yeah. I walked into that one, I know.

I then proceeded with my story about how incredibly difficult it has been for us to install IBM Connections and the IBM Sametime Meeting Server. I especially pointed out that it has taken the IBM personnel almost two months to help us integrate this solution with Domino.

I also told that our network administrator went into the fetal position and started weeping when he saw the design for how the Sametime Meeting servers were set up, which prompted a lot of laughter and applause.

When I said that we started setting this up at the end of November, Darren Duke asked me if we had finished by now, while clearly showing that he already knew that my answer would be no.

After being told to ask this question at the next session instead (and that the answer would mostly likely be that I would be told to ask the question in the following session again) I asked about the possibility to set up IBM Traveler for Team Mailboxes. I was told that this isn't difficult at all, and I got some hints on how to do it. Cool!

ASK102: Ask the Product Managers
So, then it was on to ask the product managers the same question that I had asked in the previous session. Why is it so difficult to set up IBM Sametime Meeting Server and IBM Connections, and why is it so difficult to get them to communicate with other IBM Products?

When I asked this, almost the entire room applauded, clearly showing that I wasn't the only one who felt this way. Ed Brill quickly said that this was more a statement than a question, and that we all agreed that IBM should continuously work on streamlining their products and making them easier to set up.

And just as I was about to sit down, feeling brushed off, the final insult was delivered: One of the product managers actually said: There's always IBM's cloud solution! My boss snorted his derision when I sat down.

And there it is. This pretty much sums up how I, and several others, felt after IBM Connect: That IBM is completely out of touch with their customer base. I'll explain:

Notes and Domino still generates almost a billion dollars a year for IBM. Connections only generates a quarter of that. IBM Quickr is also a pretty big earner. And what does IBM do? First of all, they pretty much kill Quickr. Sure, they will continue supporting the product, but there will be no more new versions of Quickr or active development for it.

Instead it will be merged into IBM Connections via IBM Connections Content Manager.

This puzzled me a little bit, as I've said for years that I didn't see any need for the Quickr if you've got Connections. When I've raised this point, IBM representatives have always told me that Quickr is needed if you want to have people outside of your organization to participate. Well, not anymore, it seems.

We don't use Quickr at our company, but several people I know do, and they were not happy. Or to paraphrase Darren Duke during Gurupalooza: "IBM, you've lost the plot!"

Now what about Notes and Domino? IBM is clearly working as fast as they can to kill the Notes client. I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing. I love the client, but let's face it: It's a bitch to administer, and a huge bloated client in a world now dominated by web and pads is not the future.

Yes, Notes 9 will be out in March, but it also comes with a browser plugin, which basically means you can run the client inside the browser. This is brilliant, and I'm very impressed with it so far. This means that you don't have to convert all your Notes/Domino solutions into Xpages applications before moving 100% over to web based solutions.

Xpages accounted for over 10% of the sessions during the conference, so we from the Domino family can't complain about the Domino platform being completely ignored, even if the Notes client now is relegated to foot note status at the conference.

However, quite a lot of the Xpages focus is on how to integrate solutions into Connections and how to move more and more away from the traditional Notes/Domino environment.

It's also disheartening to listen to the veterans of the Domino community. The very last podcast of This Week in Lotus was recorded, and several people in the community said that IBM Connect 2013 was their good bye to the others. They would not come back next year.

Now, it remains to be seen if they really meant this. We all look differently at things when we view them at a distance.

But the real eye opener for me happened during the night before Friday. I was in a really depressed mood (for completely different reasons than the contents of the conference) and couldn't sleep. So I headed over to the Swan and Dolphin hotel to say goodbye to people.

In the lobby of Dolphin I found Bill Buchan and a few IBM executives. I said hello, and sat down. Bill pulled out Irish whisky (and couldn't believe I was Norwegian since I declined) and we just let these executives have it. We poured all our frustration all over them, on behalf of ourselves, and the community.

I will keep the executives anonymous, but they were pretty high up when it comes to marketing. And now we've reached the eye opener I mentioned: The highest ranking executive said: "I had no idea Lotusphere was a technical (read: nerd) conference." My memory might be faulty, but I think even mr. Buchan was at a loss of words at that point.

So, despite that the most asked questions during the previously mentioned admin session were technical questions about Quickr and Notes/Domino and despite that most people who come to Orlando every January are Notes/Domino customers, this is IBM's attitude. So I guess that's it. IBM Connect is a conference for executives, and we nerds are left to fend for ourselves.

I still hope I will be able to go next year, and I hope to you see the rest of you there. We shouldn't give up just yet. Or we could just move into the cloud. That's the answer to everything, isn't it?

At least I will take a challenge that was laid out there during Gurupalooza. I will make an attempt to be a speaker at the conference next year.
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