Are there any emotions about Notes at IBM?

Christian Tillmanns Wrote :

Whatever we do and say, it’s of no use. IBM does not listen, because if they would, they would have to turn around about 137 degrees and admit, that they are wrong. 

You will not see that happen. Oh yes, there are those high level meetings we (or at least I, you might be lucky one day) will not be invited to, but you can not talk about it. Oh, I had meetings like that. You leave happier than ever, but you can bet on it, a few weeks later everything is forgotten and it is business as usual, because somebody just takes another decision, despite everything that was said. Why? Because we, the partners, are stupid. We use gut feeling and what we think is “experience”.

Big companies use big data, carefull analysing what the data from different sources say and they listen to the owners (an amazingly stupid group, regarding sustainability) who want money now and don’t care about products. Put these two things together and you get what we see. A slow and half-hearted change and many in this ex yellow bubble think, it is in the wrong direction again. And many are just fed up.
You and many in the bubble have said things that are right for years, but had no influence at all because big companies believe more in analysing than in experience and new ideas. They are dangerous. They could fail big time and not like analysing, which fails much slower but in the end costs more, because you not only lose money, but more importantly, time. Analyzing means no risk for an individual, he/she has the proof.

Apple was like that in the nineties and slowly going down. Steve Jobs turned it around with new ideas and he could have failed big time. But he didn’t. Not many experts (Analysts!) believed in the iPhone and look how wrong they were and still it was a process from the iPod to the iPhone with much less risk than what is the common believe.

That works, if you have somebody at the helm with a guts feeling and the will to take the risk to do radical changes. Do you see that at IBM? What you see at every presentation are slides and more slides of market position, future markets and other stuff which they found out by looking at the past. Steve Jobs would not have done that (not that he did not have the data). He would have taken you on an emotional journey around that new product and that is what counts.

Are there any emotions about Notes at IBM?

Dear Mr: Tillmanns

I truly believe that if you say it often enough someone will listen. It really makes sense to go to the next generation with the tools that IBM have to day.  Notes 9 is truly an amazing When you compare it to version 8.5.  When you look at the possibility with Social edition and with Connections,  it very powerful set of tools.  If Apple had not spent some much on design it would not be so successful as we all know today,  there is no second impression. IBM has that edge today , try comparing Office 365 with IBM Smart cloud side by side with a customer, even the die hard MS fan will be impressed with Smart cloud.  I apologizes taken your text and adding it to my blog like that but I agree with you No one is listening  to the voices out there.

Over 80 percent can´t be wrong ,  can it ?

Someone has to open there eyes and ears at IBM. It really makes sense to start now at the educational system around the world. Don´t let Microsoft keep that market alone forever.  you know  That is the best kept secret at Redmond Marketing department.

BTW I like to hear from the 10 that said No , lets hear your pinion.



7 thoughts on “Are there any emotions about Notes at IBM?

  1. It is beyond sad, IBM has several best of breed, absolutely exceptional products yet has lost so many customers/market share in areas where those products are demonstrably unbeatable in what they offer. To lose so many once loyal customers and so much market share to competitors wielding inferior products takes an astounding level of incompetent mismanagement and arrogance.

    IBM is a tarnished example of how to fail business management on a spectacular level in spite of having superior products than it’s competitors in several key areas.

  2. Dear Mr. Lord (any relations to Jon Lord?)
    Your welcom to use my text, after all I have written it on your blog.
    I just hope you don’t get me wrong, I never said Notes 9 is a bad product. It’s pretty good BUT, and here is were my problem starts, it really starts to shine together with Connections.
    After all you say it yourself, when you show SmartCloud, people are impressed. But that isn’t Notes.
    Do you suggest IBM should give Connections away to schools, too? That would be prohibitively expensive (hardware and administration) for the schools. BTW, the license costs for schools for Notes is, or was in my time, rather symbolic. Adding the schools for free to smart cloud? One hell of a good idea, but prohibitively expensive for IBM.

    Having said that, I want to respond to Mr. Osborn.
    It isn’t failing management or arrogance that made this. It is business as usual. People at IBM just behave normal. Especially in a time were cost cutting is in vogue (to pay that amazingly stupid group of owners), everybody is clinging to his/her seat, only to take credit but never responsibility. That is just human. Nobody can force employees to take a risk, only to get fired when they fail. Employees take risks, when they are sure they are backed by management. But in the moment, were many are fearing loosing their jobs, everybody does everthing to keep them. Therefore they go out analysing data and base their decision on it, which normaly points pretty clear to one direction (if done right, I mean were you want to point it). Afterwards nobody can prove that an individual made a mistake, the statistic was just wrong. Again, completely human.
    Unfortunately analysing big data has the same inherit problem, than any other prediction tool, like reading teal leaves. They all try to predict the future by looking at the past. Connections is a good example, that this does not work so good. Connections is an accident. Years ago it was an internal project called Blue Pages which should help IBM internally to better communicate (or so goes the Legend). That is probably the reason for the oh so complicated setup. They used what they had and added what needed (like what was left from workplace). But it wasn’t intended to be sold (legend?). Look were we are now?
    Another rather astonishing fact is, that IBM never came around to change the strategy of the white knight in the nineties: B2B only, enterprise first, no public marketing. After twenty years, it should be about time to think it over. Especially in a market were 5 years are a lifetime.
    I personally, believe Gini Rometti is quite clever, but she is the chief EXECUTIVE officer? She reports to the owners (that amazingly stupid group) and has to do what they say, otherwise she would look for another job. I am sure she is aware of the problems, which have been obvious for years. The best example how this structure leads to problems is Microsoft. Ten years ago, microsoft showed tablets (not the first, I know), smartphones and other amazing stuff. None of it came to the market. The owners wanted to stay on the proven path (again, looking at the past) of Windows and Office. Later everyone blamed Steve/Bill/Ray to be not inventive enough. Haha! The owners never took the blame.

  3. Christian , i am told that we (jon lord) are original from the same town in UK since 1647 🙂 maybe we are related 🙂
    No you never did implied that notes 9 was bad , Smart cloud is Notes and you can connect your client to the Smart cloud.

    Do you suggest IBM should give Connections away to schools, too? That would be prohibitively expensive (hardware and administration) for the schools.

    Well it depends how you look at it , Efficiency has its cost , i have said that perfect environment for IBM Connections is the Educational system in the world , no matter how you look at it its a perfect fit. just imagine how many will come to the workplace with experience from IBM Connections in 10 years 🙂 just in Iceland 4500 per year , World wide milljons per year. Doing the math on the licence is mindblowing.

    Adding Schools to Smart cloud is SMART, they have to look at that as investment for the future. its expensive to do nothing Christian.

    1. Oh yes, SmartCloud is Notes … and Connections and … and … I never get the hang of knowing exactly what it is.
      I am getting a bit confused here, with things going on here and on my blog. I think I answered that bit about students in my blog.
      But anyway, the cost of running Connections is either prohibitiv for the school or for IBM. Just waving the licens cost, does not help a lot. If IBM could give away the ready to use VMs hanging around somewhere in a smart market I can’t find anymore, that would be a bit more helpfull, but the cost of running it, would be the same and just too much for many schools.
      And there is one thing, that becomes more and more evident for me. The user does not care, as long as it works and just hates it, if it doesn’t. I often talk with people about the usage of their computer infrastructure. They know nothing, they don’t care. We as IT pros tend to project our interest on others and that everybody knows more or less what is going on on their computer. Believe me, this is not the case.
      An example: I can distiguish a B214 B2 from a KA-32 by the sound. I know from far away, if it is a B206 III or a B206L with just a glimps. I immediately know if a AS332 or a EC145 is near me without seeing it. Do you know what I am talking about? They are all helicopters and I know that, because I am a professional pilot. It’s part of being a pilot, getting the hang of the different types. My self loading cargo (passengers) has no clue. The same goes on in IT. Normal users do not know, which version of Notes/Outlook/Office/OSX/Linux they are running. You don’t have this problem with Facebook and other cloud solutions. They are just there to be used and if there is a new feature, they use it or not. If the thing becomes uncool or cumbersom, they change. There is no interest at all from the users that goes beyond, what they see. They don’t care about HTML5 or Flash. It just has to work. Period! And this is not a question of age, but of interest. If you take this and ask yourself, if giving students Connections is a good thing, one must realise, that the effect is pretty small. Givem’ Connections they use it, givem’ Sharepoint, they’ll use it, too. They might think that the other one had some features that were helpfull, but since nobody uses it at the place they are right now, it is of no use anyway.
      That’s neither good nor bad, it just is.
      One might want to argue, that Microsoft does it, too. Yes, but everybody knows Microsoft and uses it anyway. IBM can not win this, by giving licenses away. As soon as the student starts working at a company, there will be Sharepoint in 90% of the cases where web based applications are used. Until that student arrives at the top, Connections has faded from memory, except he is one of the few, who take interest in that stuff.
      I totaly agree with you, that doing nothing is expensive, but as an IBM executive, nobody can tell you the exact amount, how much NOT giving the licenses away will cost, but they can, if you give it away or add them to the SmartCloud. And telling them that this will pay out as soon as those kids are at management level, the ASGOO will laugh at you and tell you that you just burned many many $$$$$ they will not get right now, on a promise to have more in ten years. Unfortunately they now have to cut cost by eliminating your position.

  4. Christian, when a company has created a culture within itself that prevents employees from doing their jobs effectively out of fear of losing that job, and has engendered the kind of sheep-like, safety in numbers behaviour you describe then it is showing classic signs of arrogant mismanagement. IBM has taken this to a whole new level not only within itself but also extending that behaviour pattern it’s own customer base, with customers migrating away en masse, in some cases to avoid being seen as “the last man in town using that IBM product”. When you have a great product on offer yet your image has become so tarnished your brand is kicked out of an entire State like the Government has done in QLD Australia then you have a serious problem that is definitely not to be considered “Business as usual” by any company wanting to succeed.

    Good luck selling ANY product at that point.

    Also, a company’s greatest asset is it’s people, getting rid of your people, your greatest asset and in IBM’s case many highly skilled technical people, is another classic knee jerk cost cutting measure driven by and symptomatic of classic poor management and arrogance.

    1. Grant, I can not judge on what happend in Australia, because I just don’t have enough informations, what really went on down under. The things I heard are horrible, but gouvernements are sometimes very difficult customers and when you look at big projects like that, often it seems like a marriage going downwards. It’s calling names and throwing dishes in the end, but everybody has forgotten how it started and most of the time, both should share the blame.
      I would not call IBM management arrogant, nor stupid. They fear to loose their jobs, too. For me it is still the ASGOO (amazingly stubid group of owners) who is the culprit. They have seen a steady flow of cash for the last 15 or so years and fear to loose that. IBM management seems to be to be between a rock and a hard place. Due to that stupid 20$ strategy they have no room to move. The other strategy of B2B and not selling anything to the public was born 20 years ago and worked for a while. But the world has changed and BYOD is getting more and more popular and IBM does not have those devices and lost any knowledge to build products for the public. That hurts and IBM has lost a lot of time to make up for it. Unlike MIcrosoft, who also always said they essentially are a B2B company and just happend to have the OS and some office tools for the public, it is trying turn around but IBM is not. If Microsofts ASGOO blames Steve Balmer for being a bad boss (and they do), at least he got that right and that was a few years ago. That surface isn’t a bigger success isn’t entirely his fault. IBM’s ASGOO is still having their way. The fall will be just a bit higher.

      The question of people as an asset arises every time companies fire people. In IBM’s case, 4000 people seems a lot, but it is just 1% of the workforce. THAT knowledge loss isn’t so bad. So we have to take into account the larger scale of a company like IBM.
      Then there is the question of culture. From an european point of view, the US (and to a certain extent also in other countries) tradition of hire-and-fire is inhuman, but still the US citizens just want that. For years the politicians weakened the unions and the protection of the employee. IBM is just moving within the legal elbowroom that this nation wants. That’s just business as normal. 30 years ago IBM had the strategy of never firering anybody, it almost killed it. No wonder they don’t want that to happen again. Another cultural thing that always got on my nerves is the word “Human Ressources”. That’s what are employees called. A ressource! I suspect that most companies act like that. As long as we have people from the share-holder-value-generation at the top, that will not change and the ASGOO is right in that age range.
      Having defended the IBM management now, I must admit, that sometimes I do wonder what they think.
      There is still this famous sentence, I can’t get out of my head. Gini Rometty once said, that IBM must be essential to the customer. That sounds like a lock-in strategy. If that is a good idea, I doubt it. Makes you the big-bad-wolf.
      I also wonder about the relationship between ASGOO and IBM’s top management. From the outside it is hard to see, who influences whom. For me, the lack of change in strategy points towards the ASGOO and not to the management, who must see where it this strategy leads to.
      Now over to you.

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