Last week I was honored to part of a webcast that announced the worldwide launch of IBM Notes 9 Social edition. I was able to speak about how our company uses custom applications built on XPages and Domino to run our business. I also spoke as to how Traveler has helped our workforce be more connected, and how we are looking forward to integrating Connections into our Notes investment via Activity Streams and embedded experiences.
As the Director of IT for our company, I’m always trying to work with the best technologies to meet our needs. Those are not always IBM technologies. We use vendors like Microsoft, EMC, GoToMeeting, Salesforce.com, Basecamp and Box.com. I tend to choose the best platform to fit our specific needs, whatever they may be. I’m not simply an IBM fanboy.
That said, we’ve built the software that runs our business on XPages and Domino because it’s a great platform. We can’t buy off the shelf software to manage our business, it simply doesn’t exist. We could buy project management and warehousing programs, but it would be very hard to bend them to work the way we need. That’s why Domino is such a strong platform. I have a very small staff of very skilled developers who have built amazing applications that our business relies on to manage every bit of work we do. We have built it to fit our business processes exactly, and we can add in features at a very rapid pace. We integrate everything including our Microsoft ERP system, and I couldn’t be happier.
So why am I writing a blog post mentioning “legacy” on the day the brand new IBM Notes 9 Social Edition is released? Well, it’s because the market still sees it as legacy. There has really been no discernible marketing to the contrary. I’ll give you three quick examples that have all happened in the last couple of weeks. All were manageable, but I can’t believe I even have to deal with them.
First, a client of ours had been auditing our warehousing software. A German IT Auditor questioned (with much disdain) why were were using Lotus Notes instead of a “pro” warehousing system, and stated that the fact that we used Notes was a red flag. This was from a very large, very well known organization, yet this IT Auditor considered Notes legacy and worthy of disdain. It was even insinuated that nobody used Notes anymore.
I explained our reasoning for using Notes and Domino much like I did above, and then touted a brand new release of the product as well and over 100 million users worldwide, yet I feel that it fell on deaf ears.
The second one was an executive asking one of my employees what our “exit strategy for Notes” was? When the exec was talking with people from other companies, and some of our clients, the general consensus was that Notes was dead and people couldn’t believe we were still on it. So the executive assumed we had to be moving off of it soon.
Part of that is on me, and I need to continue to do a better job of internal marketing, but the reason I HAVE to do so much in the way of internal marketing is because there is little to no external marketing. You really don’t know that Notes exists unless you deal with IBM on a regular basis.
The last thing that happened was a simple offhanded comment on the This Week In Tech podcast. I don’t remember the context but the host Leo Laporte stated how he hated Notes and would never use it again. Granted, this man hadn’t touched the software in over seven years, but he was still attacking it. I’m sure he has no idea how nice the new client is, or how good the development environment is in XPages. Yet, he still made that statement that was heard as fact by tens of thousands of listeners.
Those of you that know me, and have read this blog for nearly a decade know that I will take IBM to task when it’s warranted, and I will give credit where credit is due. Obviously I believe wholeheartedly in Domino as a platform. I wouldn’t use it otherwise, and I wouldn’t take time out of my busy schedule to record customer testimonials or get interviewed for quotes for press releases. I am very publicly on record with the fact that Notes and Domino is the platform from which our business is run.
Today is a watershed moment. IBM Notes and Domino 9 Social Edition has been launched and it’s the best the product has ever been. It’s truly a great piece of software with so much potential in the right hands. It would be really nice if the tech universe starting seeing it that way. I would just like the perception of Notes to get better in the marketplace, because right now perception doesn’t match reality, and hopefully IBM can work on changing that.