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Lotusphere 2012 - How I see things

Overall the feedback I have been hearing from people around Lotusphere 2012 has been very positive, they liked the OGS and felt very positive afterwards.  What I personally took from the OGS was this, having no panels will score you big points with the attendees, saying Notes or Domino will get you the largest cheers in the OGS.  Mike Rhodin's speech basically bored me to tears, it's the same sentences as his section at every other Lotusphere, just in a slightly different order, if you're playing buzzword bingo, you only need to pay attention during his and Sandy Carter's bit.  Michael J Fox was inspirational and made me feel sad at the same time.  I don't feel sad for Michael J Fox, but I do feel sad that someone so young is slowly being taken over by a disease he has no control over, that makes me sad.  The way he is handling it though, and the efforts he is making to raise money are inspirational.  It also brings guilt, here I am with a body that does react to my commands (well apart from the jump high one) and I'm taking it for granted.  So a great opening speaker, but lots of different emotions.  I think along with panels, OGS is seen as positive if you don't say anything bad towards Notes/Domino, so as long as you don't say Notes/Domino is dead you're in good shape, but honestly, all the new stuff IBM is heavily pushing is WAS based, the web experience WAS, Connections WAS, Social Mail WAS.

OK so now onto some of the things shown and what I think the future holds.  So this is my gut feel of what we can expect to see in the future based upon things seen and heard around Lotusphere 2012.  None of this is based upon any factual information, or  from back room chats, or information from old friends, this is just my gut feel for how things are going to go after watching what was shown at Lotusphere.  So let me begin with IBM Docs.

I think I blogged at the time when IBM Symphony was the wrong move, IBM Docs is where IBM should have been all along.  Symphony is not a game changer, IBM Docs is.  IBM Symphony is now part of Apache, IBM will tell you that IBM is committed to Symphony, but I personally think the move to Apache is the first step of many where IBM will be able to start reducing the effort that is placed in Symphony.  IBM has a dirty secret, Lotus SmartSuite makes more revenue for IBM that Symphony, yep IBM still sells SmartSuite, did you know that? They still have some customers on maintenance, amazing isn't it.  Symphony doesn't have revenue, and I can't think of any product at IBM that makes zero revenue that stays around, after a few reorgs and someone new comes in that wasn't involved, they will always ask why do we have product x that makes 0$ ?  So I expect in the coming years, you will see less and less in the way of Symphony updates unless they are from developers working at home for free (kind of like Lotus focused redbooks).  Don't get me wrong, I think Symphony was an interesting idea, it was just more than 10 years late of when it was needed.  As I said, none of this is based in fact, just my gut feel on what we'll see.

Biggest cheer of the OGS, the Notes plug-in for browsers.  Details are sketchy right now, but basically you'll have the equivalent of 90% of the Notes Basic client able to run inside a windows browser.   So how do I think this will be used? My gut is this will be used as a migration tool for folks moving away from Notes.  Sure there will be some that use it on their path migrating to Xpage apps, but my gut is that most will use this as a tool to help their migration away from Notes.  Now here's the thing, if that is the case it won't be reflected in Notes CAL sales very quickly, I imagine this is going to require a Notes CAL to be used, which means that customers before which were moving just stopped paying maintenance will now stay on maintenance to get the plugin.  I think what IBM hopes will happen, is this will speed up the adoption of XPage apps, personally I think the opposite will happen, I think maybe companies that were considering moving some Notes apps to Xpages, will now just say, you know what, we can save a tonne of money by just giving people the notes app in the browser instead of rewriting it, and any net new apps will be done on some other platform.  I can imagine there being companies that even expose some of their "Legacy" (not my choice of phrase but IBM now use it) Notes apps inside Sharepoint via the plugin.

Sametime - with IBM shipping Sametime 8.5.2 IFR1 late last year, there wasn't really any Sametime news this year, well no announcement anyway.  Most interesting thing I saw though was a session given by Bill Quin and Rob Fox, AD206 The upcoming IBM Sametime Meetings Server Remote Client SDK.  This SDK looks like it has some really exciting potential, so keep an eye on it.  Not Sametime related directly, but I did attend a demonstration in the Dolby suite at the Dolphin.  Dolby were showing how they can improve the effectiveness of online audio calls through some of their magical jiggery pokery.  If you imagine a regular audio call with lets say 6 people, if everyone is speaking at the same time, you just kind of hear blugh and it's hard to differentiate between people.  What Dolby have done, is taken those different audio input streams, and make it sound like the people in the call are sitting around you in different places.  So just as if you were in a real room with people chatting around you and you can tune in to hear the different people quite easily, you can do the same with the Dolby system.  This isn't a solution that Dolby is selling for customers, it's a technology that vendors could include in their solutions, kind of the way, SONY could include Dolby support back in the Walkman days.  It wouldn't surprise me if sometime in the not too distant feature you see a audio conferencing company as promoting their conferencing software with Dolby inside.  For best results it does require a stereo headset in order to simulate the spacial awareness.  Definitely something to keep an eye on.

Social Mail - For me my eyes kind of glazed over at this point.  Basically for email I need only a couple of things, my All Documents view and full text index, that's where I spend 99% of my time when in mail.  The idea of my mail and everything else being in a stream just doesn't work for me, and for a company the size of Epilio (think the same size as those 6 million other small businesses in the US), the number of servers required to get Social Mail just isn't going to fly for us.  From what I could see it basically looked like a web page running inside a Notes client, I may be wrong, but that's how it looked.  For large companies this may be the best thing since the fax machine, I'm taking a wait and see attitude on this one.  I think it could struggle though, with the same thing Notes has struggled with against Outlook.  "We like Outlook as it's just mail" but wait "Social mail is more than mail, it's streaming connections, files, you can act of things, it's cool, you want more than mail surely?"  as I said, I'll wait and see.

The Closing General Session - Lessons learned here for IBM I think are if you're going to have someone that isn't known around the world they better be inspirational, Zander was known by less people that Bob Costas, but he went down really well as he was inspirational.  Lotusphere attendees don't like me me me type personalities.  We're really separated from the food we eat, someone chopping up a clam on stage really upset some people, the same people that a few minutes before had quite happily eaten a meat sandwich, apologies to those of you that are Vegetarian, you have reason to be upset.  Personally, I do watch the guys show so I didn't find it that bad.  I would have loved to have seen a situation with 5 Lotusphere attendees up there where a kind of mini fear factor with food was done.  Other takeaway IBM VPs will eat something fishy that looks like a penis in front of hundreds if it means looking good in front of their boss.  As for me, you could have been chopping brocoli up on stage, I still wouldn't eat it.  So I didn't mind the CGS at all, but others hated it with a passion.

I did get told by a few folks that they didn't feel there was enough technical  content and the pendulum had swung too far towards MBA type sessions, where basically you could say anything you wanted as long as it fitted within IBMs message.

There you go, a poorly laid out ramble.  As I said not based on facts, purely my gut feel.


Gravatar Image1 - I think that the main attraction to social mail is that it includes information from a variety of sources without storing it in your mail file. Granted, this is more of a problem for larger companies, but what small company doesn't want to be a larger one?

With so much information available, you're going to see this shift from the old Outlook mail client that is used as a document repository to something that helps manage information. When analytics is used to sort through the extraneous bits and present something that is contextually meaningful, we'll become more efficient.

Gravatar Image2 - @1 I hear where you're coming from Dwight, but I'm taking a wait and see attitude, fortunately I'm not the one having to gamble here. For me, and again this is me, I don't see the benefit only additional overheard, for companies with teams of people that could be very different. I don't have an SAP system that I login to approve peoples expenses, other companies do, and I know how much they like being to approve things from within their email without having to leave to fire up SAP.

Gravatar Image3 - Carl - very good writeup and your assumptions are a lot along the same lines as what I think as well. I just had the same conversation with a customer who wasn't there but was asking what I heard/saw/thought.

While I think all the Notes/Domino stuff sounds cool, there are a lot of unknowns and I wait to be proven wrong.

The highlight of the show for me was when an IBM'er stood in front of my companies booth and told me "he didn't care if companies moved their mail off Domino because they would still get their revenue from the servers running apps". Sadly, it's not the first time I've heard that, but it was very telling. It all added up in my mind when I looked back to the OGS. Showing Connections and how I could get my Exchange Mail in the Activity Stream. It was mentioned way to often during the OGS than I care to remember.

Gravatar Image4 - My understanding of Symphony was that it was a way for IBM to reduce the MS Office license fees. I'm sure the cost of development was offset by the reduction of payable fees.
I guess that means that the "embedded" version will disappear?
With regard to the non-mention of Notes/Domino, the push is towards XPages, Domino as an application server and has been since version 8.5.
It's a pity IBM didn't put this much effort into promoting/updating the notes client interface and development tools for LotusScript.
The fact is IBM goes after the BIG companies, and the small fry either move wholesale with the party line, pick out what they can use, or seek alternatives.
The connections entitlements (files & profiles) look really good. But if IBM expect smaller companies to adopt it, they need to simplify the installation process.

Gravatar Image5 - Jeff Schick announced that we won't have the Symphony fork anymore and instead we'll be cOntrubuting code to Apache OpenOffice. Stay tuned for version 4 ! ;)

Gravatar Image6 - I am the whiney English git who was complaining at Gurupalooza about not getting something out of what I thought was a developers conference.

I have to say thank you to you and everyone else on the stage that challenged me right back to make it better, present next year, stop whining and buck up.

That was not at all what I was expecting but just what I needed to hear. I think I missed a lot at LS this year as I had the wrong expectations...I also realized you get as much out as you put in.

So, thank you!


Gravatar Image7 - @6 Hi Mark, I actually felt they were a little too hard on you, and had a go at a few of them afterwards. I'm glad you didn't take it personally, and as I said filling in the evals is the key thing to do. Personally I understood what you were saying and I had heard your frustration from others. How are you liking that grocery bag? Emoticon

Gravatar Image8 - The wife says it holds the groceries very well Emoticon

Gravatar Image9 - Notes in the browser; NAILED it.

Gravatar Image10 - Hi Carl - Good write up, but I wanted to correct one thing regarding Connections mail (aka social mail). I may be to blame on the confusion given how we did the OGS graphic animations of the activity stream and then showed social mail after it. Your mail doesn't go into the activity stream....it is accessible via a plug-in in the Connections UI as a drop-down so you can access it anywhere you are in Connections, not just while you are on the home page working in your activity stream. It shows a portion of your inbox directly in Connections from either Domino or Exchange.

Gravatar Image11 - @10 Thanks Peter. So that drop down is like the OpenSocial Pop3 mail feed right? Is there a concept of an inbox in Social mail, or is it always in that drop down box? I have 30,000 odd emails in my inbox (yes my admin hates me), how would I navigate them in the new model?

Facebook has a similar layout for personal messages, and I find I always switch to the list view of messages.

Certainly interesting times.

Gravatar Image12 - Notes in the browser really tweaked the interest of our "Help Desk Supervisor" who was attending her 1st Lotusphere, however when she asked if there would be Sametime Audio/Video in Notes in the browser, the "IBM presenter" said NOPE. Pretty much killed it right there for her as we're trying to implement "ALL" these useful tools, but can't run them from one single application. Would be cool if these Product Managers sat down with "All" the teams, Notes, Domino, Sametime, QuickR, and yes even Connections and said, okay everyone we're building a full browser based notes client lets make all our products work together! lol

Gravatar Image13 - @11 Carl- Once we get past the first revision IBM Connections Mail we plan to add support for additional views/folders. If you look at how something like your iPhone or iPad handle multiple views & navigation I would imagine a similar UI approach. Make sense?

Gravatar Image14 - Ok, so this argument that your "activity stream inbox" shows content from multiple sources without storing it locally" is only of any value to an IT manager worried about disk storage and retention issues.

END USERS DON'T WANT THIS. END USERS LIKE THEIR INBOX. The inbox itself is a copied paradigm from the actual physical inbox many people STILL USE as the "pile of things I need to deal with". It's how people want to think and work.

Microsoft gets this in the same way they understand that sharepoint's job is to be a "Place to put stuff I want other people to see". Managers love that. They don't really care that its hard to manage a bunch of distinct places for things.

A typical manager wants:

1. A place for incoming things he needs to deal with. An INBOX.

2. A place to put things he wants to share with other people as a whole, regardless of any consideration as to what they want to see.

3. A way to send people things he wants them to deal with specifically.


Gravatar Image15 - @Mark Roden
Helloo from a fellow grumpy englishman based in the smog, how are you sir?
You are half right- LS used to be a Notes/Domino (largely) dev based conference, back in the day when it sold out in 30 minutes (or something). As you've seen things have changed- alot!
email me- good to catch up!

Gravatar Image16 - @14 end-users want to get work done. The user interface paradigm might actually need to change for users to be more productive. Just because email has been inbox and folders for 30+ years doesn't mean that is the right model for the next 30. I'm totally digging the activity stream approach - even in its early days - as a new way to see what's really important rather than playing whack-a-mole in my inbox. There is today a place for both (said as an email guy for the last 20 years) but I want to drive the market towards innovation.

Gravatar Image17 - @Carl
agree with your comments 100% Sir

Gravatar Image18 - @15 Email me......email who?
Marky dot lastname at gmail

Sorry Carl for abusing the comments :)

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