On behalf of 50,000 organizations worldwide, let me say this in the most professional way possible:

Don't insult us, Microsoft.

Today, Microsoft came clean on their whisper campaign of the last six months, where they go to CIOs and say, "you don't want to be the last company on Lotus Notes."  

The question facing many attendees at Lotusphere this week is if they want to be the last organization left running Notes or if 2011 is the year to move to Exchange and SharePoint
It seems a very, very long stretch from steady market share figures from IDC over the last three years -- I can't quote the number by IBM policy, but in the past both companies have licensed this report...even this 2005 version seems quite familiar today (and if you need the 2010 report, my sales colleagues can help you out or let me know).

By admission, Microsoft's whisper campaign sometimes works.  I've had to respond to this "last company" comment frequently, as recently as today in fact.  It's ridiculous on its face and it belies a truth within Microsoft -- they aren't focused on competing with Notes as much now as they are in reacting to the commoditization of email in the cloud, whether it's LotusLive or Google or anyone else.   But it's a great line, even though it has no basis in reality.  Are MS winning some Notes customers?  Sure.  Are we winning some Microsoft customers?  Absolutely.

Unfortunately, this is the area where the orange jumpsuits come in.  US SEC regulations, and IBM's interpretation of them, have always made it difficult to comment on specifics.  Microsoft knows that -- but they aren't exactly transparent, either.  Is Microsoft growing the Exchange business?  We don't know.  They cite "internal analysis" on their competitive cheap shot today, but who really is going to trust Microsoft internal analysis?  I mean seriously?

When I count up the number of user groups, conferences, and events I spoke at last year, I spoke to 5300 people face to face or in virtual events.  Let's say that the average is 2-3 people per company in some of those venues -- that's a few thousand Notes customer organizations just that I touched directly myself over the 12 months.  And I think it's pretty reasonable given that I only traveled to ten countries last year -- no UK, no China/India, no Japan, no Australia, no Brazil -- that maybe I personally touched only 10% of the Notes customer base, and those numbers add up given the 50K companies that are actively using Notes globally today.

I think the best response, though perhaps less-professional than the way I started this blog, comes from Scott Wenzel, AKA "The Turtle".  I've had to clean up this quote, but you'll get the right idea:
Think Lotus is a dying brand?  Think IBM is going in the wrong direction?  Love slamming them without offering useful solutions?  Then get...out.  Go do business with Microsoft or Google or Oracle or somebody else.  You'll make your money, and we won't have to listen as your corrosive, non-productive carping saps the energy out of the rest of us who know we're in the right place and are willing to focus on the future and opportunities rather than the past and disappointments.  For me personally, the Lotus world has brought me more than I could have ever asked for, and while I don't blind myself to its faults, I am going to support it and see that it lives on and grows, rather than [complain] about it until it withers.  Shut ... up or move on.
It's a shame the FUD machine functions so effectively going into a conference that is more transparent than any other in the industry.  Do you get this kind of meet-the-developer/product manager/partner interaction in any other IT sector?   Do you see other company executives tripping over themselves to get to spend hours talking with a business partner just to try out ideas?  Do you see the kind of user groups, organized by people in their spare time for purely altruistic purposes, taking place and springing up all over the world?

Notes as a product is still winning.  Just last night, word came in of 4000 seats moving from Exchange to Notes.  I got a lead on 20,000 seats currently on another product, interested in what LotusLive Notes is all about.  We had a great briefing with a very large Notes customer last week, who if they are considering anyone else, it's Google not Microsoft.  I can't tell you everything, but I can tell you this -- I didn't take the reins of the messaging and collaboration business to lose.  I've got a long list of ideas, changes, and two ears that are ready to head to Orlando in three days.  This year, I'm going to see Jon Iwata -- IBM's corporate VP of marketing, the top of that discipline within the $100 billion company -- on a Lotusphere stage for the first time.  I'm going to see 500 Florida university students watching the opening session.  I'm going to see more customer reference story sessions than we've had in years, everyone from Deloitte to GM (and those are just the announced sessions).  I'm going to see new executives jumping on board the "social business" bandwagon.  And I'm going to see many of you, those who have made me successful and in turn I owe my career to, ready to help get to the next level.

If you're ready to believe the Microsoft kool-aid, don't bother bending my ear.  If you've got a great idea, though, stop me in a hall, find me after a session, take me away from watching my baby girl trying to take her first steps (ok maybe not that) -- I'm ready.  See you all in a few days in Orlando.  Even those Microsoft people who protest that Lotus Notes is so dying that by the dozen, they're ready to come to Lotusphere and find out what we're up to.

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