Last Week’s IBM Think conference was very different to recent Lotusphere and Connect conferences for a wide range of reasons. In fact for me, having attended my first Lotusphere back in 2010 (Project Vulcan), this was my first major IBM event in which the star (within the ICS portfolio) was a product named Domino! The message would have been more impactful if the ICS presence had not been such a small part of the Think event itself. For me the major take-away from the event was that Domino was back and we need to start rethinking what that means!
During the course of the event and the weeks leading up to it I have had the chance to talk directly with a number of members of the HCL team and IBM offering management. It is not for me to make the subject of those discussions public, but as a long-time advocate (and occasional critic) for the platform I am impressed with both the magnitude of the vision and the pure excitement of some of the plans HCL and IBM have in mind. So much so that I am sure we are going to see a very different product emerge from the current decade. So stay tuned. There are BIG plans afoot.
The biggest Domino news announced at Think was an iPad client for Domino applications. This means Notes client applications will for the first time run on iOS devices out of the box. The initial release (likely to be part of Domino 10) will target iPads with later versions to support iPhones and Android devices. I must admit after seeing the demos that I was left hoping HCL will engage a few designers to improve the UI of the iPad applications. If we are to change people’s perspectives of the Domino platform we stand to benefit from delivering applications on a tablet that don’t look like they were designed in the 1990s. I heard a few people mention that people only care that the application works. I couldn’t disagree more!
After the HCL partnership with IBM was announced I took the time to read more about HCL and its Mode 1-2-3 Strategy It was clear that this was not a case of IBM finding somebody to offload a product in decline. This was a potential win-win scenario in which IBM and HCL could both stand to win. Even after the initial transfer of staff from IBM to HCL took place on December 1 we have seen some significant hires by HCL including Barry Rosen and Jason Gary. It was already clear going into IBM Think that Domino was important to HCL.
At Think I was surprised to learn just how important Domino now was to IBM. It appears that new ICS GM Bob Schultz has made it clear to his sales team that it was important they focus their attention on retaining and selling Domino. I spoke with a number of the the sales team and they all indicated to me their number one priority for this year was Domino. I can’t recall the last time I had heard that. In addition we have seen the appointment of Domino Defenders with global responsibilities. These include Mat Newman and Uffe Sorenson, two people with one thing in common — they take passion for the product to a whole new level.
I am not convinced that IBM Think was the right style of event for Domino and ICS. For a company that prides itself on Design Thinking I am not convinced they were empathizing with executives from important customers who attended the event and had to line up for hours to register to then eat a box-lunch on the floor and then have to gather outside a phone-booth to try and hear the news about Domino on an iPad. The two things that made the event a success for Red Pill Now was the availability of restaurants and bars under the same roof to meet with other members of the community as well as having a suite upstairs that allowed for great discussions a convenient distance away from hustle and bustle of the event. Neither of these things are likely to be available at San Francisco’s Mascone Center. There is perhaps a need for ICS to rethink how this will work for its customers and partners.
Outside of Think it appears IBM are looking to restart a number of the regional events to re-engage the community. It appears Engage in Rotterdam will sell out with 400 attendees. I was told that Icon UK would be back later this year. Red Pill Now is also exploring the idea of a global virtual conference towards the end of the year. Now is the right time to start to think about ways to engage our community — not just by by bringing back the past but also by fnding new and different formats.
I was told that IBM have now assigned multiple resources to market the Domino product. If they want inspiration, they should look no further than the viral marketing program started by members of the community at IBM Think based on the R5 “I AM” commercials. This was a truly awesome effort thanks to David (Notes Guy in Seattle) Hablewitz, Graham Acres, and no doubt many others.
I was already feeling good about Domino going in to the event, but the five days I spent in Las Vegas gave me even more reason to rethink what I can and should be doing to be part of the regrowth of the platform. There was more energy, more ideas, and more support for the Domino platform than I have experienced for a long time. There is a long road ahead but there were strong signs that something is starting to happen. Something that may cause a great many to rethink what it means to be using Domino as a platform for innovative application development and collaboration. So what are you rethinking?