Is Lotus Notes the next Selectric Typewriter? This USAToday article about IBM turning 100 reveals some clues into the motivations that drive IBM which might tell us about their plans for the future.
“Don’t make the mistake of thinking IBM is a corporate old-timer that just watched technology evolve. It has remained at the forefront through the decades and tops several of its whippersnapper rivals in some regards. “
Of course we’re talking about the same company that totally missed some opportunities like the operating system for their personal computers that has gone on to become their nemesis. We’re talking about a company that has taken the once-famous brand of Lotus and made it disappear from the public eye better than a Harry Houdini magic act.
“This isn’t like the auto industry, where the combustible engine still exists, or oil, where many parts of the business are the same,” Iwata says. “We have to let go of what we have invented. We stopped making typewriters, punch-card machines, PCs. We had to move on.”
Hmm. Is this foreshadowing? When I was 8 years old I saw the movie “Old Yeller”. In spite of all the clues, I did not did not see that coming. I thought that dog would live forever. Have I gotten any better at reading the clues? Probably not. But here’s another one:
“•Ability to move into new businesses without abandoning core tenets. IBM is a classic example of a company that had to get into entirely new businesses, without turning its back on what got it to where it is, Collins says. If you consider what IBM’s mission is, it’s not about computers or technology. It’s about allowing its individual employees to create ways for its customers to solve operational problems, Collins says. Whether that’s a task best done with scales, typewriters or computers doesn’t matter; what matters is that customers’ needs are answered, Collins says. “
I don’t know how this movie will end. Maybe we’ll learn more on the Greenhouse webcast about the future of the Lotus brand June 28 at 10:00AM ET.
Meeanwhile, let’s get some popcorn and watch a few movie trailers.
I want to share with you a Facebook post from my friend’s wife. I have known his family for 20 years. We were neighbors when I lived in Greenville, South Carolina. Growing up, he and his brother spent many hours exercising my black lab. They are now grown and married and have children of their own. Jessie lives in East Lansing, MI. Gabe lives in a small coastal village with his wife and daughter. The village is Ofunato, Japan. A Detroit TV station picked up this story. Check out the video: http://www.clickondetroit.com/video/27212569/index.html
Here is her post:
Stephanie Craft~ Monday March 14, 2011
On Friday afternoon as you all know an 8.8 magnitude earthquake shook the country of Japan. Gabe was at school across the bay and I was home in Jinomori with Violet. When the earthquake started I ran outside with Violet. We had no shoes or coats on as it happened so suddenly. I struggled to make it down the street to where my some of my neighbors were standing and holding on to some steel poles. They held out their arms to me and then we all wrapped our arms around Violet. She began to cry and the shaking became more and more severe and also probably because my heart was beating out of my chest. There was an explosion at the power plant that we could see from where we were standing and we all screamed out loud as the sparks flew. Finally the shaking subsided and we all stood around waiting to hear the announcement to follow. Violet was screaming so loudly that I could not hear the announcement at all. I stood there as long as I could but we were both getting cold so I started to walk back in to my house thinking it was all ok. Just as I arrived at my house my dear friend Junko Mino drove past and shouted out my name. I was so happy to see her and she immediately said there is a big tsunami coming please get in my car. I ran to the door of my house and was able to grab shoes for me and Violet and our coats. They were by the door so I didn’t even have to go inside but I did see everything in my kitchen on the ground. I had my cell phone and ran back to the car and we drove away. I tried to call Gabe several times but everyone was doing the same thing. I could not get a connection. Finally just before the service cut out we connected and I said where are you? He told me his location and I told him I was going to the hospital because it is the highest place in our town. Junko dropped me off there and then went to meet with her family. I went inside and they were setting up triage in the entry ways. I stood there in the entry as the aftershocks continued to shake the earth. A former student of Gabe’s and her mother arrived with her 1 month old twin baby girls. And we waited together to meet out husbands. After 1 hour passed I was really getting sick. Someone came in and said where is Gabe and I told them. Their eyes told me everything I did not want to know. They said the wave came and I just felt my whole world shatter. I didn’t even know the wave had come. So I stood there trying to hold it together for our baby girl. Another 45 min past and I was really hanging by a thread of hope that I would see my beloved’s face one more time. I was thinking of all the things I had said the night before and that morning. What could I have said different. Then a familiar face appeared. It was my neighbor and she shouted out that Gabe was there. I didn’t believe her though. She left and running through the doors 3 minutes later was my beautiful husband. It was the most beautiful embrace of my life. My husband my friend and love was with me again. Then we waited for news of other loved ones. That night we were told to stay in the gym of the hospital with other survivors. It was amazing to experience such kindness and grace under so much distress. We are safe and very blessed. The next day we moved to another evacuation area to make room for incoming elderly and injured. There was no lack of water or medicine but we knew the night would be another rough sleep. We decided to journey to the town where our friend Mark and his aforementioned wife, Junko, live. As we were about to leave Mark came in the room. We all embraced in tears of relief and thankfulness. Mark took us to his home and we ate and slept well. There is so much more to tell… But, we must go at this time.
We give thanks to all of you who have kept us in your thoughts and prayers. We have each other but we have lost our home, car and possessions. Many have asked how they can help. So, given the cost of shipping anything these days and that we can buy what we need here the best way to help us is to send a check or money order payable to *************** ( If you want to help this family, contact me directly or give to World Vision http://www.worldvision.org/ )
We love you all and thank you so much for all of your thoughts and prayers.
We are continuing a vigil of hope for friends not yet contacted.
Peace, Blessings & Love, Gabe, Steph & Violet
For perspective, unless someone gave them some clothes, they are still wearing what they wore last Friday.
So how does all of this tie into Lotus Notes? World Vision is the charity organization to which IBM gave half of Watson’s winnings from his victory on Jeopardy. World Vision is also a Lotus Notes shop based in the Seattle area.
The Lotus Forgot series: An alternative to a full Designer client on Mac or Linux and lesson on who develops applications
We don’t need a Designer client for the Mac or Linux. We need one for the people.
I understand the effort to create a full new instance of the designer client on a different platform is a daunting task. And in the end, who might use it? Developers. Some of those developers will use Macs at work. Some will be college and high school students. Some will be computer-savvy small business owners and entrepreneurs who serve as the CEO, CIO, developer, and user all in one. From IBM’s perspective, this may seem a rather small niche to dedicate the resources. It’s about ROI. So I propose a solution that would reach a much larger market and have a broader impact in enabling people to serve their own simple development needs:
Add basic development functionality back into the Notes client.
Yes, make the Notes client as it once was in the days before R5 when the ability to create applications was an integral part of the Notes client. What would it include? View development (which is already there), Formula language (which is already there in some capacity), and form development. Some agent development probably too. Provide people with enough to be able to serve their own basic needs without overwhelming them with complexity.
Why do this? Simple. Empower the people. Power users have always existed. They were what made the early versions of Notes so successful. It was easy for them to create their own tools in Notes and they loved it. LOVED IT! I can recall many times in the R3/R4 days when users came to me with a database that they had created or made a copy and modified it and wanted to share it with other people on their team. I took it, maybe cleaned it up a bit, and put it on the server where their whole team benefited. This was the root meaning of collaboration: Not just sharing data, but sharing solutions. By the users, for the users. It was truly Rapid Application Development (RAD). Before they had Notes, people were doing this in 1-2-3, Access, FoxPro, etc. It is no coincidence that the Notes client began losing favor among end users as soon as they lost their ability to explore what Notes can do by creating their own applications. The greatest advocates of Lotus Notes are those who can create applications in it.
People did not stop creating their own applications when the designer code was removed from Notes. But now they just do it in other tools like Access and Excel. Sure, there is also Sharepoint and Quickr, but those do not provide for PERSONAL tools. People will not “play” there they way they do with other software. Sadly, while users today are far more computer-savvy than they were in the 1990’s, they are being denied the opportunity to apply those skills to their job, at least where Notes is concerned. As a result, Notes has lost its appeal. Users have been driven away to other tools and no longer know (and have no motivation to learn) what could be done in Lotus Notes. To them it is no longer a PERSONAL productivity tool. Now the only way to get an application in Notes is to request it from the gatekeepers of I.T. It’s like building a Lego kit and giving it to a kid and then saying they have to bring it to you if they want to build something different with the pieces. Sure, the designer client is “free”, but it is not given to employees and for the most part they don’t even know it exists or how to get it.
If we are sincere in our belief that the power of collaboration and Open Source is truly for the benefit of all, then it should be made accessible to all. It should not be hoarded by the professional Domino developers of the world. It should not be locked out by the administrator who doesn’t want the additional work to manage the applications nor the I.T. director who doesn’t want to deal with losing control of application development process and his feeling of importance. Do not waste time defending this practice with the “good ol’ boy” mentality claims like “But the users don’t know how to create good applications.” or “their rights must be restricted for their own good or for the good of the company.” This is Social Business. This is the definition of Web 2.0. (See video)
Eliminate the hierarchy, eliminate the red tape. Empower the people. The more you empower the people around you, the more successful you will be. The more they must depend on you, the less you will be able to achieve. It’s the axiom of good leadership.
IBM may never feel justified in creating a full-blown designer client for Mac OS or Linux. They may never go back to having the simple developer client for the masses that was so successful. So while you wait for IBM to decide what to do, I suggest this: Let your people know the designer client exists. Make the designer client available to anyone who asks for it. I would even encourage them. If you have any programmers in the company that code in other software, be sure to give it to them.
Notes was founded on the principle of giving people the ability to create their own custom applications. (The History of Lotus Notes) That principle has clearly been forgotten.
If you agree, please vote for this idea at IdeaJam
Perhaps long-forgotten, this is an age-old tip that I have used forever without thinking about it until someone saw me do it and asked.
First, go to the Workspace. That’s the page everyone uses for their homepage, that looks like an iPhone screen and that IBM doesn’t want us to use because it’s “the old look” of Notes.
Now click on the View menu. If Show Server Names is selected, deselect it and click on the View menu again.
Now that it is unselected, hold down the Shift+Ctrl keys and select Show Server Names.
OK, trivial. But handy when trying to clean up a user’s workspace with a mess of replicas and copies of databases. In dire cases, you may want to also unstack the icons.
As I prepare to head to Orlando, I saw a clip from Disney’s “Fantasia”. All those brooms bringing bucket after bucket of water and nearly drowning Mickey Mouse. Much like your inbox, yes?
Well a month ago I gave a suggestion on keeping your inbox empty enough so you don’t have to scroll to see all the messages. You might have faithfully followed those steps in the beginning. How long did it last? A few days? Maybe a week? Here it is a month later and that scroll bar probably returned with a vengeance as if you had taken an axe to it like Mickey did to the broom and all the splinters became more brooms bringing even more water. Don’t be discouraged. Make a new folder “Inbox 2011” and start again. Only through persistence will it become manageable and over time you will notice you go longer before the evil scroll bar shows up again.
Promoting Lotusphere to college students: Learn about careers in Lotus software for web dev tools, social media and more!
It’s great to see an IBM business partner stepping up and making an effort to promote careers in Lotus software at colleges and inviting students to attend the opening day of Lotusphere 2011 is a fantastic venue for showing IBM’s stuff to the workers of the future. As an online prelude to the free attendance to opening day, they take visitors through a quick history of Lotus software and a lesson on xpages development.
An excerpt from their site tells you the WIIFY:
What’s in it for you?
A rare opportunity to attend a student’s only meeting with key IBM Executives from R&D, Marketing, and Business Development
Meet with IBM Engineers to learn what skills will allow you to quickly start a career working on IBM platforms as well as their insight into the future
Learn what new IBM software will be delivered around social media, collaboration and web development
Network with 200 small, medium and large companies in the IBM Showcase
Network with over 6500 business professionals in attendance
Attend technical and business oriented sessions
Go to the Labs where you can get hands-on experience with the software as well as talk to IBM developers and engineers
Attend a Women in Technology session with Kristen Lauria, VP Marketing IBM and Sandy Carter, VP IBM Software Group (for woman only)
Check it all out here: http://www.gbs.com/college
Even if you aren’t at a college in Florida, you should check out the info on the history of Lotus software and the latest on their software development platform with XPages: http://college.gbs.com/
Students, it’s easy to think Microsoft is the end-all for software. The reality is IBM is the leader in business software. They just don’t make a big deal about it.
Welcome to my new home. Please visit my original blog at BleedYellow to view earlier posts.
The purpose of this alternate blog from my blog at BleedYellow.com is in part a re-branding to be easier to find
(Notes Guy –> Lotus Guy).
The content will continue to be edgy, thought-provoking, and otherwise politically incorrect with technical tidbits thrown in for good measure. Wallflowers are welcome, but the value comes with dialog and collaboration, not monologue. So please join in.
And if you’re looking for an expert Domino system administrator, I am for hire.
David (The LOTUS NOTES Guy in Seattle)