Lotus: We’ll give you the air cover you need! Humbug, I say! Humbug!

I agree – this is a rant but I’m frustrated – deeply frustrated.

So I was at the Lotusphere 2009 and was happy to hear Kristen Lauria, VP Lotus Marketing, on stage talking about the renewed commitment from IBM Lotus to marketing and about the new SmarterPlanet campaign. IBM was going to provide the air cover we as partners needed. IBM was going to be visible and aggressive. IBM was going to get into to fight. They were shattering windows for God sake!

I was thrilled. The crowd was thrilled. There was a big applause and I think I even heard someone shout. At the blogger executive Q&A I asked Kristen whether this initiative would be coming to Europe and she said yes so I was even more thrilled. It would even be coming to Denmark. Wow.

It’s now been about 5 months and I have seen nothing. Absolutely nothing. IBM Lotus is still as absent from the media as they ever has been. Nothing has changed.

“We’ll give you the air cover you need!” Humbug, I say! Humbug!

As I said I’m frustrated. IBM Lotus has some of the best technology out there and probably the best and most competitive client in the market. Notes 8.5 is arguably the best and most capable Notes client ever. With Notes 8.5 we’re back to Notes being a true platform. Unfortunately customers don’t know it. As business partners we are still on our own and we have to mature and nurture the market our self.

It’s a real shame. I think we would be a lot stronger if IBM sent some air cover and dispatched that air strike we have been crying for for so long… Well – maybe next year.

16 thoughts on “Lotus: We’ll give you the air cover you need! Humbug, I say! Humbug!”

  1. That is so true Mikkel.

    Existing Notes customers have no idea what they could have by going with 8.5 and some are doing expensive migrations, converting old R5 apps to .net and Sharepoint when they could have had all that cool stuff by upgrading to 8.5 and using a tenth of the budget on using what the RCP foundation is offering.

    But we just don’t have the marketing muscle to tell this story ourselves.

    Frustration indeed!


  2. There is no air cover. There is no marketing. There is no publicity. There is no PR.

    IBM don’t do that. They sell to business, not end-users, and certainly not consumers.

    They do tier one ‘Brand’ marketing, like this current ‘Smart Planet’ stuff. Absolute and complete fluff. Your eyes just roll off the page.

    I really wish it wasn’t so. Its killing us here in the UK.

    Thats why I gave up trying to do IBM’s job for it.

    Why get frustrated and shout at IBM ? It makes not a blind bit of difference. If your really lucky, you’ll just get threatening eMails and the promise that IBM will never ever help you again. Which would have actually made a difference had they ever helped me in the first place.

    Its a depressing place, this little burst yellow bubble.

    —* Bill


  3. We are seeing the same thing in Australia.

    IBM stealth marketing is working like a treat. Very few people outside of the yellow bubble know about Notes 8.5. It really is a shame because 8.5 is the best ever and 8.5.1 is going to take it to another level.


  4. Although they have the best of intentions, IBM is a big place and getting everyone to sing from the same hymn book will require a lot of planning and some serious cultural change.

    Perhaps Nth America is motivated and responding, but as you’re seeing in Denmark, (as well we’re seeing here in Australia to), the rest of the IBM globe is not on message with this. Now that the fan fair has gone, there are just tumbleweeds blowing down the streets of activity here to.

    The unfortunate culture IBM has to overcome within the Lotus/Collaboration area is the “build it and they will come” philosophy. Yes, there are some changes going on, but it may be too little too late. Their complacency for years in this regard is now coming back to bite them we’re all here scratching our heads wondering where all this talk of growth is (ex-Nth America), because we’re not seeing much of it here.

    This doesn’t mean I want to see more useless “smarter planet” commercials, I would like to see tangible results of new license wins (not upgrades).


  5. I couldn’t agree more.  I was staffing a booth today at a technology conference, and here are a few choice comments I heard.

    One was a customer using pop mail, said they were looking to implement Exchange soon.  I asked if he had thought about Lotus Notes.  He said "Not since the 1980’s."  Good news is he was very interested in Lotus Foundations after we discussed it.  Imagine if he had seen advertising actually promoting the solution rather than some abstract smarter planet!

    The other choice comment, "IBM has a unified communications solution?"  Absolutely shameful that Lotus has had a great product like Sametime in market for over 11 years, and I rarely run into someone who has heard of it. 


  6. As mentioned earlier it is a disgrace in Australia. I am at my wits end trying to defend IBM in my organisation. You can’t even get anyone from IBM to contact you; we have not heard from anyone in over two years, and we are not a small organisation. There is a huge push, from management, to move to Sharepoint and consolidated all our licensing costs. I emailed IBM for some assistance to counter this, without any success. Extremely frustrating!!


  7. I believe that Lotus Notes is a truly remarkable product. Enough so that, like many,m I ave invested a small fortune in building a company that creates products for the Notes community. (http://www.eProductivity.com).

    We have been very fortunate to have some big name endorsements. I have been hearing from Lotus BPs that they are using eProductivity as a tipping point to assist them in software wins. (Working on getting those documented so we can share. No large wins yet but small wins all the same.)

    It is my hope that we and other BPs can create products that will serve the marketplace by building on the power of notes.

    I have a love/hate relationship with IBM./ I love the Lotus Notes product line. I hate to see so many missed opportunities (By IBM) to meet customer’s needs.


  8. Your arguments are absolutely to the point and very well argued. After many years in the IT business I have learned the it matters to have the a strong product like Notes 8.x and it matters to have have a fantastic group of IBM employees and partners supporting it and building customer solutions for it. BUT it is a painfull fact that only very few Lotus customers are aware of the true potential of the Notes platform – and certainly even fewer none Lotus customers have any idea what´s out there. The time is rigth to start massive awareness building so that the number of customers using Notes will start growing again. If IBM continues to argue that it will not do brand marketing the platform, I am afraid, is doomed. WE NEED ACTION NOW.


  9. Here in Spain, everything is the same as previous years. People asking if Lotus Domino is still in the Collaboration market, if it wasn’t a legacy app sever, and an utter silence from IBM regarding new products and improvements.

    They leave the task to partners, and, at least, here, that isn’t working.


  10. No but never really expected him to. When he wrote what he did I considered him to be stalling more than anything else. The IBM Lotus marketing strategy is so screwed up and I don’t really expect that to change. Tragic but that’s what I thought.

    If IBM actually comes back with anything I’ll be VERY surprised.


  11. Oh come on.  I’m not *in* marketing so what I did was try to engage someone inside my organization to respond.  We had an internal discussion and are working on a more general response.  I have explained the perishable nature of blog discussions and that we needed to respond faster.  I wasn’t stalling.  But not everyone at IBM works in the social networking world yet and, from what I can tell, they would rather give a complete answer at the right time than just an answer.

    I surely didn’t expect you to attack me in response to an anonymous comment.


  12. Ed – maybe "stalling" was a poor choice for a word and whether it being in response to an anonymous comment or not – well can’t really see the big difference. You must surely also realize that the comment wasn’t aimed at you personally. I know you’re not in marketing and I understand that you can’t and shouldn’t be expected to speak for the entire IBM Lotus organization. You coming forward just raised my expectations about something happening. At least just a comment from marketing. When then nothing happed it just added to me frustration.

    I’m sorry if you felt you were attacked – that wasn’t my intention. My intention was to convey how frustrated I as a business partner am and how nothing appears to be happening.


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