Lotus Top Gun

Lotus Top Gun hat, source: petrkunc.net Wow, what a week it was. The famous Lotus Top Gun training came to Prague and I had a chance to be there. Full and packed week of English and new information about Lotus products. OK, a lot of them I already knew, but still got something new. So, what it was about?

First of all let’s start with some interesting quotes I heard during the week. Some of them are quite funny, others I wouldn’t expect to hear from IBMers.

Driving different cars is like using different software – there are differencies but it is about the same.

iPhone doesn’t deliver real value for business people, but managers love to show it around.

Microsoft needs an army of people who hold their products running. And everybody accept it.

IBM was synonym for I‚ve Been Moved but nowdays it is more I‚m By Myself.

Make it personal again.

You cannot find the pain through IT department.

This thing was bad. One of our first customer still doesn’t speak to us.

And then it started. Probably in an American way – we got signs, so we were able to show the presenters to slow down, speed up, that they are really good and so on. Didn’t use them for the whole week.

First presentation and first shock – they run a video to start it and yes, it was one of the oldest I remember – IBM Lotus Notes – To Act as One. Really nice to see it again. Had my usual stupid question if they don’t have anything newer and better and got the answer – Lotus Knows. Remix. OK, they really don’t 🙂

What could you say about the Lotus strategy – according to Gartner IBM is number 1 in Portals in period 2001 – 2008 (there isn’t any newer report probably). Lotus Notes also has about 40% of email share worldwide with Microsoft having about another 40% and the small rest (OK, that 20%) is just the rest. Gartner also admit that future of email looks like Lotus Notes despite the fact that they predicted death of Lotus Notes a few years ago. And they do use Lotus Connections internally, nice.

Wouldn’t believe that about 30% of Lotus Sametime users are Microsoft Exchange/Outlook users. That’s quite a lot and it looks like the Microsoft Communication Server isn’t really that good.

Just quick remark about Lotus Greenhouse – we should use it as a demo platform to show customers how it looks like and how it works, the account is for free. Also the future – LotusLive – has a 30days trial for free, so we have a lot of stuff to try and show.

Studies – I love them! About 64% of customers would prefer paying higher price to someone who knows their problems and pain. Nice, just find that 64% of customers.

Lotus Foundations

I didn’t get this product before. And I wasn’t alone. We started with an easy question – why is it so popular? So we tried these answers:

  • one box
  • up & running in 30 minutes
  • affordable

None of them were the most important – disaster proof is the most important one. That really surprised me. The operating system is located in firmware (and in two copies), has never been hacked from 1999, the box automatically provides on-time backup (with possibility to roll back to any time) on hot-swap disc and with one click you can install a new version of OS. Nowdays you can run anything on it as VMWare Server 2 is included.

Would you lose the server just order a new machine, bring your backup disc, put it in and you are back in game. And yes, the backup disc is encrypted and has all settings saved on it as well.

Pricing? About 2 400$ for HW, 221€ for server licence and 149€ user licence all of it including a lot of nice stuff. And did you know that Xerox built on top of that the Xerox OfficeNow! solution?

Opportunity planning

That was probably the first time I heard about this competitor, despite the fact I see it then and now. The „no decision“ competitor, when customer just decided not to solve his problem at the moment. I also found out the complaining doesn’t mean desire to take an action and that product focus is different from solution focus (which I realize quite often).

Don’t target the functionalities when you’re doing a presentation, target the business value you have in your solution – that’s nice and probably true. I just have to find out if this is true for small and quite simple solutions as well.

Project Liberate

I just hate this comparisons but think is interesting – the fact that with appropriate licencing you can save around 40% on your Microsoft licences and still get everything you need. Good to know, because when you save money to customer he can buy something from you without problem. BTW do you know where Microsoft really get money from?


Another survey, this one from Forrester. Top 4 critical and high priorities are:

  • implement enterprise collaboration strategy
  • deploy master data management initiative
  • SOA architecture
  • standardize middleware

And LotusLive provides the collaboration strategy which was on the top. Web conferencing (without audio, which is kind strange but IBM doesn’t want to compete with telco companies), people profiles (Connections), email (Notes or iNotes) and also LotusLive Labs (looks like everyone has to have a lab) with some interesting products in development.

Lotus Sametime

Another video with a song that nobody knows who put together – IBM Lotus Sametime – The First 10 Years.

Didn’t know that there is no rule that IBMers have to use it and they just use it naturally, because it has value for them. They are also the largest implementation with about 170K users in peak and about 300K+ in total. Wow.

Sametime Unified Telephony (SUT) makes sense once you realizace that you don’t want to call someone desk (when you call landline) but you want to speak to that person. So far I remember just one customer who assigns phone numbers to position and not to the specific user, so it must be true. At the moment the SUT is in limited availability but most customers don’t really need it, Sametime alone would be enough for them.

Headsets – didn’t realize it before, but it should be an important part of implementation, because with bad headset the sound is just bad as well and nobody knows that it isn’t your fault (I mean the software).

The new web client in Sametime 8.5 is completely in HTML and it is really nice, you wouldn’t believe it. Also the Advanced version of Sametime 8.5 isn’t available yet (would you look for it) and will be available shortly. And it is possible to update the embedded client in Lotus Notes.

Skype integration was an interesting question. The answer was – not enough demand. But we found out that in Europe it probably isn’t true. Will see, if there will be any change.

For audio the Sametime supports just 6 users in one meeting, would you need more you have to buy some extra hardware from Polycom or another partner. It is quite expensive but has a value.

Competition and Collaborative Economics

Another study – this one quite old, because its results for last 10 years are about the same and nobody wanted to pay it again – the TCO for Lotus Notes and MS Exchange are about 150$/user/month.

Interesting and it also means that you cannot really have it as an argument. Migration costs are about 300$/user while upgrade costs are just 50 – 75$/user. Still didn’t get how is it possible when IBM says the all Microsoft upgrades are rip-and-replace so they must be more expensive.

Somewhere is also a webcast and calculation table from Forrester Research which you can use for TCO calculation.

Social software

Because Why is more important than How. And video, of course – I am

Lotus Quickr will be still on both platforms (Domino, WAS while about 80% use it on Domino) and in H1 should be the FileNet integration available also on Domino platform.

The Quickr and Connections development teams are blended which means that some functions are delivered by the same team on both platforms. And it could mean that in future there will be just one product (who knows). At the moment Quickr users are entitled to use Connections Files and Wikis. Also in Connections you can create a community but its content put on Quickr.

Which one use when – that’s the question without one answer. But basically when you speak about teams use Quickr, otherwise Connections. And primarily think Connections and when you find some limits change to Quickr (such as that you need to put files into folders). For customers you don’t need to speak about specific products, speak more about the value and find out which one is better to solve their pain.

The Quickr Connectors also helps to sell Quickrs. And when you speak about time saving it is more about the time which approvers will save when approving documents (and looking for their last version).

Future of Domino.Doc aka Domino Document Manager is in Content Collaboration Edition (FileNet) and this upgrade you’ll get for free.

And at the moment you can get some nice discount when buying Quickr and Connections together as well as Sametime for Outlook.

WebSphere Portal

The introduction was nice – „You had to suffer all those products, but now I will help you to fill your quota. There is no way how to fill quota quicker than with Portal.“ (absolutly true).

When selling portal (and it makes sense to other products as well, probably) start with case study from similar customer, continue with story how it helps with problems and finish with those technical stuff.

There is a new offer called Portal Now, which should helps with selling it to smaller clients. We also saw a really nice table where to position which WebSphere product – one of the most helpful tool I saw so far.

Mobile Accelerators are really nice – they automatically prepare the best version of your portlets for each specific device. These conversions are written by IBM manually, based on about 200 different variables, to provide the best experience on each device. Nice. This product is really unique and should be include in every presentation (don’t want to know the price :-))

Dashboards – everyone wants them, it is so easy to sell it 🙂

Web Content Management has about 7% market share which is quite a lot compared to other products on this market. That really surprised me, would consider 7% as not that much. It works nicely with Mobile Accelerators and is part of Portal Now offering.

That is it

Yeah, really hard week, about 10 hours per day just to get some advices:

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