Defensive success

June 30 2005

While I can't blog about individual customer situations and certainly can't name names, I thought it might be interesting to share some good news coming out of Lotus vs. MS competitive battles over the last few days.  Since one of the anecdotal things I am hearing from Lotus customers is "Microsoft is telling my boss that nobody uses Notes anymore", it's somewhat instructive to look at some actual situations and the lessons learned, both good and bad.  I seem to be doing that a lot right now.

There seem to be a couple of themes in these situations right at the moment.  One is Notes shops who need a bit of freshening up, consolidation, and streamlining.  Microsoft's pitch there is relatively straightforward -- the assertion that it will be cheaper to run an Exchange environment (due to "free" license bundling, "ease of use", etc.).  In the recent volume of successful defends, what Lotus was able to show is that there was a lot more savings -- and far less expenditure -- in making updates to the Notes environment such as consolidated servers, better replication architectures, retiring of obsolete databases, taking advantage of new features, etc.  With one customer, I learned that they were unfamiliar with a number of Domino 6.x server features that were clearly designed for their kind of environment.

The other theme is the inherent value of Notes collaborative applications.  The organizations I've been talking to in the last few months have been discussing moves to Microsoft technology while continuing to derive value from the applications built on top of their Notes platform -- and in most cases, continue to build new apps, deploy new teamrooms, bring in business partner solutions.  So while their corporate executives might be having the discussion about moving, the people running the infrastructure just keep going every single day, delivering on the promise of Notes.  Once the executives see this, the discussion tends to end.  That's the reason my Lotusphere presentation on competition is designed the way it is -- socializing your successes inside your organization tends to be a critical component of "defending" Notes.

Even after eleven years at Lotus, I'm not sure why Notes seems to be a technology always on the defense.  In these recent cases, the defense was triggered by competitive pressure.  The response was enough to not only show the value of Notes, but to establish new directions leveraging existing investments.  Rational business decision-making prevailed, and we're mutually better off for it.

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