Nobody wants to be first

October 15 2007

In my inbox today are two requests from large Notes customers, asking to speak to a reference of similar size who has already deployed Notes 8.  I think 2-3 such requests a day is my average for the last few weeks.

The problem is, there just aren't many organizations that a) have completed a rollout of Notes/Domino 8 in the 60 days it has been in market, b) are willing to be references for said rollout, c) are willing to field multiple reference inquiries (we can't just keep asking the same customer over and over again), and d) can answer the types of questions that are being forwarded for such a reference call.

This is quite a dilemma right now.  To be honest, if a large organization had already completed a rollout of Notes 8 and was ready to talk about it, you'd have to wonder whether their risk management, testing, planning, and training were sufficient.  If they're a multinational, they'd have had less than 60 days to work through all that -- the translated editions of Notes 8 only started shipping five weeks ago, and some languages still won't ship until late this year.  And there's always the "dot zero" factor, where many IT organizations are hesitant to roll out the .0 release and are waiting for 8.0.1 (scheduled for Q1, 2008).

Inside IBM, we're working with a number of the managed beta and design partner organizations to begin the formal reference process.  However, there's a difference between our targets -- reference published on ibm.com, used in Lotusphere content, etc. -- and the "I'd like to talk to a customer who has rolled out Notes 8" requests.  They just don't exist in huge quantities yet, which shouldn't really be that surprising given the big change in usability in the Notes 8 client, the dot zero factor, and also the calendar timing -- many organizations go into a desktop lockdown for part or all of calendar Q4.

If activity in the blogs, forums, and tech support calls are any indication, it's clear that there is a huge amount of effort underway to begin Notes/Domino 8 deployments.  However, I don't think we'll have a ton of ways to answer this reference request for another 60 days.  In the meantime, I've been providing pointers to forum postings, analyst reports, press reviews, and some of the data we have from the IBM internal deployment (which is now over 15,000 users, and maybe more like 20K, without having begun the full enterprise-wide rollout for some of the reasons indicated above).  That still doesn't appear to be enough information, so I'm currently seeking other ideas for how to address such requests (and maybe you have a good idea).

In the meantime, if your organization has rolled out Notes 8 and are ready and willing to talk about it, let me know.  I might even be able to comp a Lotusphere pass or two, including a reserved seat in the front row for the opening general session (note to Lotusphere queens if you are reading -- I'll ask for forgiveness on this one later :-)).  Or you might have a chance of being on video or otherwise featured at the event.  Lots of good options -- it has to start with you, though, making IBM aware of where you are at, or plan to be, with your ND8 deployment.

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