The discussion in the last five days that came out of Rod Boothby's simple recipe to leave Lotus Notes has been fascinating on several fronts.  It's enough that my brain is busy trying to sort some of this out at 4 AM, so I'd like to try to get the thoughts out while they're fresh.

I've taken a fair bit of criticism over the last few days.  Arrogant, defensive, combative.  It has been suggested that my approach to some of the discussion isn't what would be expected of an IBMer who has the word "executive" in their title.  

There is actually some truth to all of that.  I'll accept some of the criticism. I've said some things that were probably a bit too provocative.  I also made the mistake of starting a fight and then, worse, being offline while some of it took place.  

Still, it's hard to examine all these postings and not get a little emotional.  How do you have a discussion with anyone without considering their background and yes, getting a little "personal".  Those that have labelled me have done so, in part, by getting personal about me.  Kind of ironic.

Some, like my former grandboss Cliff Reeves, wanted to have the discussion on a purely intellectual level -- suggesting that Rod Boothby was just a typical user frustrated with Notes, looking for a way to get off of it.  But you can't look at Cliff's comments in a vacuum -- he's a Microsoft employee who used to be at Lotus, prompting Rob McDonagh to examine Cliff's word choice in the discussion.

In the same way, my first comments about Boothby's "recipe" posting were biased from the outset.  They were biased by what I knew of him from his websites, his other writings such as his August posting criticizing the Notes community for encouraging votes in his online poll.  It was sort of like a lawyer who faces a hostile witness -- we might both ultimately be on the same side of wanting to encourage organizations to collaborate, but you wouldn't expect us to be great partners in the process.  How could Rod's background, enthusiasm (or bias) towards "pure" Web 2.0, or use of emotionally-charged words, be ignored for a purely intellectual debate and discussion?  It doesn't happen that way.

Another irony of that discussion is that some assert that by attacking Rod's migration recipe, I and the rest of the community are ignoring the fact that customers want to migrate from Notes.  To be clear, I'm absolutely not...but, as has been true for ten years now, I'm used to Notes being attacked without the total picture being considered.  My first comments on Rod's first posting were actually not "why would you want to migrate?" but rather "Honestly, if you wanted to just export the data, there are plenty of ways to do that." (DXL, OLE/COM cut/paste, and web services).  Rod did acknowledge these in updating his post, but then seemed to forget or ignore them in subsequent comments and posts.

So was I ignoring this question of why do customers want to migrate from Notes?  I didn't explicitly discuss this even though Rod, Cliff, Dave Madison (in comments on Cliff's site) all kept trying to say it was the real issue.  I guess this is a bit of battle fatigue.  I didn't touch it because I know the answer and they know the answer, and it was because of who was asking the question that I was defensive about the notion of migrating.  How can you not consider someone's background in answering their question or addressing their assertion?  I know from the literally dozens of "why migrate" conversations I've had in the last 18 months that most are prompted by outside forces -- even Gartner, who have written some rather one-sided papers on the subject of late, acknowledge that most Notes migration discussions are prompted by emotions or politics, not business issues.  And when I asked Rod a series of direct questions about his postings, including "Other than 'the UI sucks', what actual complaints do you and your other readers have about Notes?" , that question (and my others) went unanswered.

Interestingly, one of those other questions is really the reason I should stop being so defensive.  IBM has publicly reported year-to-year revenue growth of between 5-10% for Notes/Domino in every fiscal quarter that I've been the worldwide sales leader for Notes/Domino, with 40,000+ active customers.  Are some considering migrating?  Sure.  Gartner recently made a huge deal of the 77 inquiries they've had on the topic (77/40,000 = 0.2%) while noting that few of those customers have actually migrated.  But this is nothing new in the 12+ years I've been working with Notes, and the only difference today is the intensity of the marketing and bounty dollars Microsoft is putting into "Notes Compete".  And while we've been playing a heck of a lot of defense, we've been winning most of the battles -- because the Notes roadmap is the best it has been in years, because we're shipping great new releases like 7.0.2, and because customers who consider their existing Notes deployments often find they are deriving far more value from them than they thought.  

So what if I am a "cheerleader" -- I am not exactly offended by this.  I know it's big gossip that my friend vowe and I are having some kind of row over it, one which I tried to handle offline.  But I and three other colleagues (from both sides of the Atlantic) plus other readers perceived a series of postings that seemed quite one-sided, with nothing good to say about all the good things that are happening with Lotus right now.   When Alan asked "do you have anything positive to say?" the response was only "I am still looking".  Well, I've been looking for the last two weeks, and yesterday I posted links to 18 different blogs with very positive (and admittedly, some negative) things to say about 7.0.2.  So it was hard for me to not wonder what is going on behind the scenes that prompts such a stream of negativity.  I'm over it now, but that doesn't stop me from having been disappointed for a period of time.

We're all human.  We all have our beliefs, our biases, and we choose who we listen to and who influences us.  We have positive and negative personality traits.  We are not all the same.  And that, friends and others, is why the pure intellectual discussion doesn't work for me.

Post a Comment