What did I miss?

February 26 2011

When you travel to four cities in four days, with the requisite packing and repacking, meals on the go, dead cell phone batteries, and the like, you miss a lot.

On an individual level, I missed remembering to take my reading eyeglasses with me as I left my inbound flight to Munich. It's OK, it's time for a new prescription anyway, and in a sure sign that I'm getting older, I think the word "bifocals" might be part of it. But I also missed remembering to take my wool hat along when I left my inbound flight to Hamburg. It is time to figure out a better way to schlep.

On a personal level, I missed my family and they missed me. A lot of Skype-ing going on this week. I don't think my 8-year-old understands that as recently as just before she was born, I had to worry about ensuring that I could call landline to landline while travelling. Now we can call mobile phones anytime, chat with each other in Words with Friends games, send emails and pictures, and have a world clock handy to know what timezone daddy is in at all times. Unfortunately, it seems that all of this technology isn't enough. Some work ahead.

On a professional level, I missed sharing some news. What an interesting week when Cisco announces that after purchasing Postpath for $215 million, then spending another several million converting it into a SaaS product, they're walking away. Which, when you walk away from software, it means nobody bought it. I am not at all surprised. My colleagues and I were pretty surprised that Cisco spent that much money for an email server in the first place, and they learned as we had that claiming to be a drop-in replacement for Exchange is harder than it looks.

Speaking of harder than it looks, Microsoft Windows Phone 7 earned another notch in the belt for Microsoft's vaunted mobile device strategy. Though they've rushed to obfuscate it quickly, but apparently a scheduled OS update on Samsung phones turned some into bricks. Great feature! And I should rush for us to support this operating system exactly why? I understand there is some market for Windows Phone 7 in the enterprise, but it seems at the moment to be a #4 player, whereas for the top 3, we can support much more than just push email/calendar/contacts through having built or partnered for native clients and interfaces. Support for ActiveSync alone isn't able to provide the transport for other collaborative or social requirements, and rightly we'd prefer to build out a complete set of capabilities on every mobile OS we support than stay boxed into the email domain. We're going to continue to watch this space, but even Nokia's work with Microsoft doesn't matter until 2012, so for now, the team is rightly focused on mobile capabilities that will matter this year.

On the flip side, here are some things I didn't miss this week --

  • One of the best ever Q&A sessions at an LCTY, in the closing session of edcom nachlese in Munich. I am not sure how we would ever recreate such a session - even the Germans were surprised at how interactive the discussion became.
  • I met some really great partners doing tons of good stuff in XPages, mobile, Connections, and Notes client management. More about these in the coming days.
  • Some equally great interactions with my colleagues along the way. I met Maria Gomez, the new Director for IBM Collaboration Solutions in Germany, who is quickly finding opportunity in her new role. Stefan Wissel finally explained the uniquely German garden plotz to me. I had a wonderful dinner with my colleagues Kevin Cavanaugh, also criss-crossing Germany this week, and Christian Holsing.
  • Some gracious and passionate hosts for the week -- Otto Förg and the edcom team, Felix Binsack and the TIMETOACT staff, Andreas Hiller and GIS, and Henning Kunz/Jens Polster and a successful SP Integration LCTY. In all, about 400 people across the four events -- and there were at least two other LCTYs in Germany this week that I was aware of. Thank you to all for the opportunity to come speak to our mutual customers and partners.

The next few weeks I'm staying home to focus on the business plan for IBM messaging and collaboration solutions. Through road trips like these, surveys, support data, Lotusphere, ideajam, forums, usability design, and many many other places, we have lots of opportunities to open up in the year or two ahead. It's time to convert those ideas to actions. I might be a little more quiet than normal, but it's only a little over two weeks until I leave for Istanbul and Vienna events in mid-March. This kind of balanced office/customer-facing work is something I would definitely miss -- the time on the road grants the energy to do the hard work at home.

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