Mail Next and Many of you are drunk right now … kind a!

Yup, that’s true, if you are one of those incredibly hard-working men/women, who know they don’t need a lot of sleep and can work for 20 hours a day for weeks. If you find yourself here, you might want to realise you have a mental performance of a heavily drunk. And as a bonus you are killing yourself.

Every other year in May the time comes, were I have to renew my flight instructor privileges. Probably for the last 10 years they beat into us, that fatigue is one of the bigger problems in aviation and the one the easiest to solve. It rectifies itself literally while we sleep. Would be nice for all my problems.
Now the most important misconception:

  • I am young, strong, I run, I bike, I work out, therefore I need less sleep.

Na, sorry. Older people need less sleep. The average person at around 25 needs 8 straight hours of sleep and that does not change a lot until 60. No argument will change that fact. Not even coffee. And you can’t do a training to need less sleep, all you get is even more sleep deprivation.

When somebody has to work for a while more, that’s ok, as long as enough rest awaits in the end. If not, the continuous sleep deprivation leads to burn out, depression, cardiac problems, there are even signs that it might be a factor in getting cancer. Need more reason for enough sleep?
Let’s say you stay awake for 24 hours. Would you consider yourself at peak performance? Not really. I personally start feeling quite dizzy after 20 hours. Test show that continuous sleep deprivation of only two hours per night over 14 days, reduces your mental performance to the level above. That is about the one of a drunk with an alcohol level over 0.1%. Nobody wants a driver or a pilot in that mental state, but developers, admins and managers all over the world think that this is their normal level of performance. A bit more coffee and I am ok. Wrong. In that state my work is lousy. More mistakes and way slower. The problem is, my subjective feeling tells me different. In don’t feel very sleepy, actually quite ok, but my mental performance is still lousy.
Unfortunately we have a culture of who stays the longest in the office, wins. Everybody has to show, they can work hard. Real men culture. Working under pressure. Yeah.

Bullshit.

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) just released new regulations about Pilot Duty and Rest Requirements for Airline Pilots (not for the freight dogs, which I think is stupid). After a 14 hour shift with not more than 9 hours of flight time (8 at night), every pilot must at least get 13 hours of rest and 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Every pilot has to sign a document to affirm that they are fit for duty. There are now limits for daily, monthly and yearly flight time. Why? Because we don’t want almost brain-dead people on the wheel. But pilots are real men/women, aren’t they? Especially helicopter pilots. We are by definition cool, no? But if I would fly for 20 hours straight, I would probably crash. Now I am not cool anymore, rather the late blithering idiot.
Do we really need sleep deprivation to be considered hard? The results should count, not the number of meetings I can press in a day.
Unfortunately many people see this like sport. They say, that working hard is like running a marathon. That picture is wrong, because after a marathon, your body needs rest. Everybody knows that. Nobody runs 10 marathons in a row but this is perfectly acceptable in business. Working should more be considered like a round the world tour on foot/bike/boat. Constantly working toward a goal without damaging the body, because it is a loooooong way and you can not do this with the speed of a marathon. But it brings the best performance over a long period. But no, (almost) everybody thinks long hours are the cool/hard/peak-performance factor. In reality they are the stupid mistakes, bad mood, irritating behavior and friday afternoon crash factors. More coffee please, thank you.
It’s a question about what one wants. It’s either a game of who can keep the seat warm the longest or who performs the best. If I want the best performing employees, I should throw them out after 10 hours in the office and go home, too.
Now what about mail next guy Scott Souder? Every time I hear him, he is complaining about the email flood and his solution is mail next. Good show though, but not a solution for his sleep deprivation. The 10 PM mail from Kramer will still come and Scott will only find it faster with mail next.
How about a feature in mail next where mails from certain people only show up between 8 AM and 8 PM? Cool no? As long as the boss can override that setting. If I have one of my great ideas, I want that all my subalterns know that immediately and start working on it.

 

A View from Beneath the Dancing Elephant – another book

Now this book is different from Cringely’s. It was written by Peter E. Greulich, an insider. He tells the story of the Watsons in IBM and the impact they had on a positive corporate culture. Something inexistent today, as the author believes.
While Cringely relies on information he can gather from the outside, Peter E. Greulich has worked for IBM for about 30 years in various positions, including management. He has many interesting stories to tell, but the essence of the book is his grief with IBM’s current situation and how it came to it. For him it started with the reign of the white knight in the person of Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. who at first was his hero. Later, especially after changing the retirement schema, he started to feel, that IBM was going in the wrong direction. With Sam Palmisano, it got worse. Management started to use rules and tools, that were either incomplete or not understood. As an example he recalls Tivoli Configuration Manager. At first a game changing product, but for the lack of continuous developement it became obsolete.

The development director said, “TCM is a cash cow. Why should I spend money on a product that is nothing but pure profit?” He believed that products in this market were commodities with low margins, and should be left to others to waste their profits on. We never convinced him otherwise.

The cow in “cash cow” is quite a good example for this. When you got a cow you have still to feed it and you have to look for a replacement – its offsprings normally – while the profit you make with the milk, pays also for growing (cash-)cow. But until the old cash cow becomes a poor dog (meat loaf), it is the duty of the product manager to push the poor dog as far in the future as possible. In the software business that means constant upgrades and enhancements and at least some marketing, until nobody has any new ideas (good ideas that is) to keep the milk flowing. By then, the rising star should be ready to take over and eventually become the next cash cow. That’s the ideal world and it does not always happen but still, Just abandoning a product, just because one thinks it good enough right now, without having the next thing in the drawer, is rather short-sighted.

The other story was with “Lean”, even so he does not mention the word. IBM used Toyota’s “Lean” initiative in a perverted kind of way. The real “Lean” wants to free resources by using everyone’s knowledge to eliminate inefficiency AND augment quality. The idea is not to find ways to fire people but to free resources to use them better. That’s one of the main principles of Lean, not to fire people. Greulich recounts how he lived through that time, when more and more of his friends disappeared and how that hurt his and others work. Key people were “resource actioned” (fired), because that department just had a quota to fill. It works exactly like Microsoft’s performance management. If you have a bad quarter, you are a goner. Does not matter, if your family just died in a train crash. Or in other words, if you had Einstein, Newton, Curie and Pauli on your team, Curie probably would have let go, due to her morning sickness and the resulting slightly lower performance at 7:30 AM. With that IBM became even more inefficient and the quality dropped. To make up for the loss, IBM bought more and more other companies for a lot of money, only to bluewash and crush them. Small example: Nitix. Developing their own products ahead of time with freed resources from a proper Lean program, could have saved and made IBM billions (in the case of Nitix, IBM once had a lot more Linux developers). But that would have cost shareholder-value. Now that’s bad, if the friends at Wallstreet don’t like you anymore because you don’t fill their pockets enough. It might be a wild guess, but if you look a the prices IBM paid for some companies and the number of products that after a few years are still alive, one gets some doubts about that strategy.
This kind of senseless loss of manpower (today: knowledge drain), did not happen 20 years before, when Greulich had a hard time himself as a single parent with three small kids. His friends at IBM and his manager just helped him through this time and he is forever grateful. First, it did not hurt IBM, because the work got done anyway and second, Greulich committed himself even more. If that isn’t a win-win situation? And don’t tell me that isn’t possible today. Many companies all over the world show that you can prosper and accepting a social responsibility.*
The numbers are also different to Cringeley’s. According to Greulich, for every old IBMer (in the US, Europe and so on) let go, three to five Indians or Chinese developers were hired and still they can not match the quality and therefore the speed of the old team. Not even financially that makes sense. As a side note, many big european companies in-source again. Even Apple starts to build computers in the US. Do they probably know something IBM does not? None of all those companies do that because suddenly labor costs dropped below China’s, oh no, they do it because it makes sense financially. More money in the long run!

Worth a read? Definitely. It does give you a point of view of somebody inside. Cringely looks for sensation (that’s his job) and Greulich is just sad. Somewhere in the middle lies probably the truth, but all in all, the pictures match.

A View from Beneath the Dancing Elephant
Rediscovering IBM’s Corporate Constitution

by Peter E. Greulich

* One of the best example came from the union representative at Porsche during an interview at Le Mans. You can be nice to your workforce and demand that extra effort if somebody wants to work for Porsche. That’s the view of the “Betriebsrat“! In early days the enemy inside, today an important asset to the company. No wonder VW wanted one for their american workforce, because it pays off.

i Cringely: the Decline and Fall of IBM – a review

For quite a while I was working on a series of blog posts about the decline of Notes and Domino and then came this book. Damn, he was faster. But this book isn’t about Notes and Domino and I couldn’t say if Cringely even knows it, but it does not matter. Here is a bigger picture and it explains quite well, why Notes and Domino are on a sinking ship. It’s not only that Notes is under constant fire from outside, the whole IBM is a mess, if all what Cringely writes is only half-true.
I like the book. I said similar things before. But is the magnitude of stupidity that reigns in the ivory tower of IBM as bad? Sam was on the wrong track, but it looks like, the Road Kill 2015 is not going to stop soon and the C-level is following like lemmings.
Forbes has a nice article about it, too.
The whole problem with IBM turns around shareholder value, or rather the gamblers version of it. Even as a first year student, I knew shareholder value is not one of the clever ideas (according to Jack Welch, the most stupid and he should know), if you want a company to survive. It’s a good idea, if you don’t care about the company and all you want is more money. But that river will dry out eventually. It just does not work as a sustainable strategy.
From my point of view – you may call it idealistic – investors are people who give a company money to work with, to build on. They have a long-term view, because the investors believe in the company and the products. People like Ican, BlackRock and so on, are more like gamblers. They are not investors, because they do not invest. They want making money as fast as possible. Which means buying cheap and – now comes the important part – selling high in the shortest possible time. Only by selling the stocks, they actually make a lot of money. Dividends are just a nice to have on the way there and a way to move the stock price higher (read: the twenty bucks target of IBM in 2015). What comes after, isn’t their concern. If they leave a bloodless hull on their way to wealth, who cares. What amazes me most, is the way Sam thought, that the investors are a good thing for IBM. They buy stocks from outsiders and sell to outsiders. There is no money flowing into IBM. It is absolutely useless. The only reason to schmooze with them, were his own pockets, as Cringely points out. According to him, Sam did everything to get rich and get out … and on the way make his friends on Wallstreet happy.
What I find interesting about the investors, is their view about “their” money. If it was “their” money, it wouldn’t be in stocks, it would be a credit, where the company pays an interest and after a while the whole sum back. Capital stock is money you don’t get back from the company you invested in. That’s the whole point. It’s the companies own capital. But you get a dividend which is hopefully higher than the interest you would get from a credit. The only way to get your money back, is to sell the shares to somebody, who believes that this risk is worth taking at a certain price. That’s the stock market were the gamblers reign. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is wrong to use your power to influence companies to act in a way that hurts their business only to make money for gamblers, who have nothing to do with the company. Why the heck should IBM care about them? But it looks like, there is a whole generation of economists, that never saw the stupidity of shareholder value.

My profession – the economist, not the developer – is a lame one. We can’t do anything. We depend entirely on others to develop, build and sell products (I am not really one of them, because I can build stuff) but we are the clever ones that made a whole economic world revolve around us and we are very good at slapping each others backs. Yes, there are things we learn and can do, like organising, reorganising, book-keeping, all very important things, but we are nothing without the grunts on the shop floor, who turn the screw drivers.
Unfortunately, not many managers realise this.
Now the real clever ones think; yes, the grunts know a few things we don’t. How can we make them expendable anyway? How about knowledge management? If that works, we can fire the expensive grunts and hire cheap ones without loosing anything. Unfortunately it does not work, not even with IBM Connections. Because intuition, experience and creativity isn’t something you can store in a database.
Back to the book. IBM added 100’000 Indians, Brazilians and Chinese developers, managers and whatever else, and fired (or talked them into leaving) 100’000 Americans, Canadians, Germans, Swiss and others to cut cost. What I don’t get is the fact, that outsourcing developement, services and design is so last century. By now everybody knows that software written cheaply elsewhere by newbies without experience and proper (which means looooooong and expensive) training, will be easily 20 times more expensive, because of the errors which have to be rectified at home (from those few left, that still now how it works). That has been common knowledge for years and still is true today. But since my brothers and sisters of the economy schools do not have a clue about software or hardware development (they don’t, I gave many of them private lessons in excell programming. It was horrible) they probably really do not know about it. Another interesting effect of this is, that IBM seeded hatred against itself. Many fired IBMer will eventually turn against IBM and 100’000 ex-IBMers with a grudge is a lot of influence in the market.

Can Ginni turn the ship around? If she wants, but she will make a lot of gamblers angry, because it would mean to stop the Death March 2015 (said that before). She would have to stop borrowing money to pay for buying IBM shares. Invest IBM’s own money to make better products faster. I don’t agree with Cringely, that they have to be cheaper, but for a premium price you need premium products and services. It’s doable, but not like this. I get itching from the last sentence:

One thing is certain. Rometty will likely breathe a sigh of relief once her hands are no longer tied by it [the Roadkill 2015].

Why are her hands tied by it? Just because Sam had a this idea? And even if she does pull the 20$ off, who believes that after that she can do the right thing? By 2016 the gamblers want even more. It’s a never-ending story, if you are in bed with the gamblers, they will not let you off the hook. That is the reason why Tim Cook did not want to give in to Ican. He knows what happens. Fortunately Apple has so much cash left, that it almost looks like a good idea to give something back and since Apples stock can’t rise indefinitely, one day Apple had to pay a dividend. Every company has to look for its owners, but not for the price IBM is willing to pay.
The only solution for IBM is to throw the gamblers out. Which either means that Ginni looses her job or the situation is desperate enough, that even the most greedy gambler sees the writing on the wall, which means the stock price has fallen, despite the 20$ bucks. In that case the gamblers will leave and try their luck elsewhere. Ginni might still lose her job, but at least she has a chance to convince the remaining share holders that she has the right ideas to save IBM. On the other hand, if the stock price falls far enough, Apple could use its petty cash and buy IBM. Now wouldn’t that be nice?
The next thing that I have not seen to this extent are the management levels. Up to 13 from the shop floor to the boss. Oh my, what happened to KISS? What are these guys between level 2 and 11 doing? But wait, let’s crunch a few numbers. If each of the managers have just 2 others report to them – which would be silly – that would make 8’191 managers. Not that bad for IBM, but the lowest level would have about 100 grunts each. That’s too much. Let’s say it’s 3 per manager. That would make 797’161 managers. Obviously too much. You can’t invent that many job titles. There are probably quite a few dead ends in the reporting chain. Whatever, there must be a lot of spread sheet pushers in IBM.
When I think back about the last ten years, IBM constantly changed. Once it was services, today it’s software, people came and went, it was always a big surprise, who you would talk to next time. Products came and went. Big failures, small failures, name changes, changes back to the original name. It’s a mess and it has been for a decade.
Probably one of the more important reasons why Notes and Domino customers jump ship is, they are just fed up with IBM. Something I have probably underestimated. I should have learned from my own experience, when IBM took very nice prospective customers from me.
Ford once was in a similar position not too long ago. They made more money with financial transactions and forgot that they were a car maker, until it caught up with them. One day the CEO said: “We understand our troubles.” How about that as a motto, instead of “Be essential”?

PS: I am now reading “A view from beneath the dancing elephant”
Looks like it goes in the same direction.

 

No really. What kind of evaluation license is this?

I made myself a Smart Cloud Engage(?) test account.
Now what I wanted to do, is invite somebody to work on a text outside “my” company. First it is rather complicated until you get there. You can not invite somebody from outside by adding him on the document. You have to go through files and invite them first from there. Right there were your new document shows up (aaaarrrghhh).
When you just added somebody and click invite, you are informed, that you are not allowed to do that. The invitation will not be sent. What kind of usability is this?
Wana do that in Google Drive? Add an email address on the document, done. That is how it should work.

IBM you just won my Catch22 special award for annoying usability. If you don’t want somebody do something, tell him first, not after he did everything required.
Could somebody within IBM please call Apple for a course in usability? Might be worth it.

 

Mail-Next and a amazing change

First the rant. I am with Volker Weber and the annoying stuff one has to do to follow a web meeting with IBM.All started well until it actually started. I had an image but no sound. In the chat window phone numbers appeared. Toll for anybody outside the US or Canada. IBM, that’s not nice. Is anybody on another continent a lower life form?
I restarted the whole shabadoing and had to install the latest Java Version. A little window asks if I want to start the plugin which did not start anyway (just an empty window and nothing happens) or it started and did not say so. I continued without the plugin and had sound. I missed the first 15 Minutes due to a half backed web tool.

But it got interesting in the end. I am not going to describe all the things I saw. I suppose almost everybody got invited. What struck me is the new openness of IBM. Last year there was the big silence and now Kramer and Scott show even prototypes and concepts. Scott said about ten times not to take the current design as a final version.
It is either because IBM tries a new way of promoting Mail-Next or they are just not sure, if the concept holds its promise. But the curiosity how it will look, almost kills me.
Now IBM, let me tell you this: You set the bar high by promising a new mail experience that should help all of us to keep the mail flood under control. What I have seen, there are some ideas that immediately struck me as great. Some were more like “told you years ago” and some were “great, but …”. All in all I can see some huge improvements for the mail experience.
The calendar bar (name might change … or will certainly regarding IBMs tradition of killing easy to remember names with multi word gibberish) is nice. I would like that, but I would not use it, because I still try to keep my calendar in my head. I always thought, that what it’s made for, remembering things. But it think that will help a lot of people managing their time better … as long as they can do it on the smart phone, too or the tablet for the matter.
I definitely liked the search. Finding not only mail but also links, attachments and other stuff is great. Adding the search to the bar as a single button is the way to go. I would even go a bit further and add a tagging possibility for adding stuff I know it belongs to the search but did not show up for whatever reason. That could replace folders. And to make the transition easier for every folder addicted user, call it something like smart folder. Click on it and it shows everything that is tagged and everything that is found in the search.
We can do what we want, folders are not going away. We can just stop pretending having found a better way. If we would change “Tagging” to “add to Folders”, the acceptance would be much better. The Folder Cloud with different sizes for different numbers of mails, would be a good idea, too.
Many claim not using folders but still move everything to the old mail folder just to have an empty mail box. Why not just leave it in the inbox? Because it looks tidier. I just use one folder in Notes, the inbox. Works too … as long as I remember to clean the crap out once in a while. One day I am going to add that “remove from inbox” button again.

Now what about the Notes client? Mail-Next is browser-based. The browser has become the universal framework for a lot of great tools. It works. If IBM wants to keep the Notes client, it should have the same user experience as the web client. With Mail Next for the first time the web version has surpassed the client version. Now what? Either kill it or find another solution. The only reason for the traditional client are the applications. In case of killing, the solution is either the browser plugin or move to XPages. The later even enhances the app experience and helps us developers make a few bucks. In case of matching the capabilities, IBM has a huge problem to solve. Expeditor can’t do all this very good. Rewriting to Notes client as a kind of browser and expeditor based client just to be able to do in a new client what you can do with all the other web tools already, does not make a lot of sense. What would you do? I think we all agree, building a new Notes client does not look very useful. Except IBM comes up with an idea, that is so awesome, that everybody is going to uninstall the browser immediately. We know the answer to that. And if some traditionalist thinks he can not live without a mail client, move down to Outlook and leave us alone.

I am looking forward to Mail Next and I am just now looking at Smart Cloud to get the last Domino server into its retirement home. And if I am really nice to everybody I can probably sneak my way into the advisory group and test Mail Next early.
And due to the NDA I could tease everybody that I have seen great stuff but can not talk about it.

Scott Souders dead cold hands

There are not many occasions when IBM has amazed me recently but yesterday that was the case. I attended IBM Connect in Switzerland – organized by the partners Belsoft, Cross Works, GIS, TimeToAct, WebGate and Avnet, probably paid by IBM through co-marketing money, whatever – and I saw Scott Souder for the first time in person.
That man lives a dangerous live.
But first things first. As ever I enjoyed Louis Richardson. At least in his presentation one stays awake. He does not have a clue about technology (say he) and still, every time I know something new about IBMs technology in the end. Which probably is the whole point.
Next thing was Duke Daehling about Kenexa. Interesting, one could say, but I think there is a huge misconception about that search of the best talents. They always forget to say: search for the best talent FOR THIS PARTICULAR JOB. Otherwise we end up in a war for employees with high IQ’s. The point is not to search for the best employees in general, as it might seem if you follow the marketing pitch, it is about finding people to excel in a particular job. Connect job description and people better. Since Duke Deahling is a statistics guy, he should know that in general, your workforce is build from average people and that will not change. Oh yes I know, your company is special and 70% of all drivers think they are above average.
What I also liked was the contribution of Professor Andrea Back from St.Gallen. She talked about measuring the success of a social/collaboration/whatever infrastructure and in short told us, don’t bother too much about it. You soon will realize if it works or not. Too much measuring is for bean counters and can be dangerous and spoil the whole effort. All that depends on the company. A telemarketing company might need to analyse it. Others don’t. But Professor Back knows a lot about social software and uses it. Much more than most generation Y kids I know. Why? It just makes sense to do it. That’s a message many still haven’t got.
Martin Donnelly was certainly a highlight, too. But even though IBM thinks that XPages are a technology on the rise, I can’t get rid of the impression, that it is something for new customers … which are rather rare.
Now back to Scott. First he said we should not Twitter about some things we see, but he said nothing about blogging and he forgot to mention which things. Here we go.
Scott said Notes isn’t going away or in his words, “you have to pry Notes from my cold dead hands”. If that isn’t a statement from a Notes dinosaur, I don’t know what is. Did you know, that he was one of the first twenty people working on Notes at the dawn of history? He really loves that thing. Even his kids make fun of him about using Notes. If IBM ever decides to let go of Notes, they have to remove every sharp object in Scotts vicinity.
What really amazes me, that he is still there. How did he hide from the IBM job carousel?

For all of you who saw Mail Next at Orlando you need an update. I saw the latest design proposals. Most certainly it will not look like anything we have seen until now, but the underlying technology is just amazing and it works … NOW (probably not all of it) and it is there to solve Scotts own email flood. Take that as a motivation. Scott showed his email account with the latest build. Want it. And it is good news for developers. iNotes is a nightmare for developers. Looks like with Mail Next we can actually fiddle around with it.
Not to forget project Hawthorn. That should take the pressure of poor admins, when the new CIO wants Outlook. Give it to them and let them struggle with its shortcomings … ok, cheap shot. It isn’t that bad. The thing is, does Hawthorn solve a problem? One, yes, the Outlook pressure, but today there are many more web mail systems which pose a problem for Microsoft and IBM. Mail Next is one hell of an answer to those.
As for the Notes client. I am much more convinced it will be with us for a long time and when you hear Scott, he is aware that the footprint is just too big. Especially for mobile devices. What is pretty clear, there will be a Notes 9.0.twoish Notes. Next year. After that?
Mail Next in the Notes Client? Would not surprise me but is it worth it? Well, a few years ago I hated web apps, but that has changed. I’d rather take a good web app for my Mac Book, than a slow local client. What about offline? Whenever my internet goes offline I can’t work anyway. Take a book and hope they don’t finish fixing it before the next chapter.
Or what about just once use the time to get something done in peace and quiet.
Now I just have to find out, how to get in the Mail Next Beta … Scott and Louis seem to respond to bribery by Swiss chocolate. Worth a try.

BTW more people should read the book of Anitra Eggler: Email makes stupid, sick and poor (sounds like a lousy translation). That was a) funny and b) I know one or two persons that could benefit from her insights.

SocialBizUG trolls … They do have a problem

There is somebody hovering around the Social Business User Group who is trying to sell Office 365 desperately. Last time it was under the name of a british actress, this time it’s interior design: Grace Lilly.

This time he/her/it/them even went as far to build their own WordPress blog. Quick thing, they just installed it and did no customization at all. Will probably disappear in no time, too.
Nice url: lotusnotestooffice365.edublogs.org/
While edublogs.org is in australia, I suspect the “Grace Lilly” to be from GB. But who cares, the real bad thing is, that SocialBizUG has a problem with trolls. I wonder, how they intent to fix this. They should, if they really want to be an IBM collaboration solutions user group, as they say in the “about” page.
Edublogs shouldn’t be happy about this either.

Think inside … or outside the InBox? Mail Next continues the never ending Story

I can’t get it out of my head. While I like what I saw in Scott’s and Kramer’s presentation (and I get more and more the impression Ed’s shoes are probably too small for them), I think we are somehow going in circles.
The Mail Next concept is really cool. No doubt about that. IBM got to the point (already a while ago), where they realized, that users don’t want to get out of their inbox. It is today the epicenter of the work. Bringing the other applications to the inbox, is probably easier, than forcing users to go elsewhere for tasks they always did in the inbox. All very nice. But I fear, the run of the mill user will not “get” it.
What we have to realize is, that most of us are biased. We like technology. We like to fiddle around with things and I for the matter always used my skills as a developer, to make my life easier. For example, it started in the days with Notes 6. I never used folders because I always ran into the problem, where to put things. Customer? Project? ToDo? Once you moved it from the inbox, it’s gone. It was too much of a hassle to go every time to the all documents view and put the same mail in different folders … tagging for the poor. I knew how that works, the common users do not. I explained it a hundred times to users, nobody grasped the concept. Where I worked then, we made our own views (not folders, views). Customer/sent&received, Sender/send&received, Projects/ … and so on. Tagging for the a bit richer. Many things you don’t find even in the latest and greatest mail client version. Some of these even made it in my contribution for OpenNTF: the OpenNTF Mail Experience German Version and some even used it. But, that’s just us yellow bleeding guys and girls.
Some time ago I wrote about that CFO who was so happy to finally having migrated to Outlook, because now he had tasks. Now stop groaning, the story continues (BTW after two years they still have Domino servers and Notes clients for applications). A bit later I told that story to a group of people, who were just bitching about their email flooding. Nobody laughed. They just asked, what are tasks. If anybody thought just IBM failed at the design of Notes, because the tasks were not easy enough to find and use, surprise, surprise, Microsoft failed, too. It’s not the design of the client, it’s the training of the user.
It’s like driving. If you are required to be able to drive a car for your job, all the employer expects is a driver’s license. You can be the lousiest driver in the world, does not matter, the employer (most) will not send you to have some special training to become a better driver and bring accidents down or make you to learn to read a map to stop you getting lost.
Same with email. You know Email? You are hired. I bet that 90% of all users just now “New”,”Send”,”Delete” and how to move mails to a folder.
I even saw geeks that did not now more, because all they did was programing and Notes was just an annoying piece on the screen that did not look like everybody else’s mail client.
But all of them think they are pretty good with computers. Again like driving a car. Over 70% of all drivers think they are better than average..(pause for thinking)…. (got it?).
I bet way more than half of all companies think, that they use IT to the max, despite the fact that they just use mail (probably calendar, but no task or simple BPM), file server and some “ERP” and have a homepage that isn’t up to date at all. They never dive a bit deeper into the possibilities of their tools. But they do tons of nice and shiny Word and PowerPoint templates.
Most of the reasoning I heard is, they have no time. You can argue, that if you learn a few things about using Notes/Outlook, you save so much time, that you can even take on more projects. Does not matter, they don’t have the time to invest NOW to save time later. Today we just “know” how email works. Nobody invests in something, that everybody knows already (see above “tasks”).
Now back to Mail Next. I want it … It’s not really new, IBM has tried for years to reinvent how we work with mail. They took on one of the most daunting tasks out there and came up with some really great ideas to make live easier but all of them require training. If pick some average user from the street, tell him that Mail Next is his mail client and he should now start working. No training, just start working, like it will happen in many companies. After five minutes the user will hate it with a passion you can only dream of. Just because he can not find the inbox and hasn’t a clue why there are pictures of people he just met five minutes ago or not at all. And what is a dash-board?

If IBM does not come up with a way that everybody just looks as Mail Next and “get’s” it, they are back at square one. And I don’t think Gamification is a solution.
Now if IBM wants that to be a success, and I don’t see a reason why not, they should probably add FREE training to every migration to Mail Next. Otherwise the “I hate Notes” will  seamlessly become “I hate Mail Next”.
Oh yes, some marketing would help, too (now please stop rolling on the floor, I had to say that, didn’t I).

Notes Next anyone? Connectosphere OGS and Mail Next presentation

I watched the OGS yesterday. First: For some reason we were not allowed to see a live stream of some guy named Seth Meyers. I had to google him, to find out that he is some actor and does something with Saturday Night Life. I don’t think that IBM has something to do with this. Probably Mr. Meyers legal department came up with that idea right before the start of Connect and IBM had no choice to accept. IBM certainly knows, that this is quite an affront towards those not able to attend in person. If William Shatner or Michael J. Fox accept a live stream, why not some rather unknown guy like Seth Meyers? We will never know why, but if Stuart McIntyre says that he is funny, but not brilliant, that’s good enough for me. For all those blocked out, we haven’t missed a lot.
What came next? Cloud, Analytics … and so on. Collaboration for success … pioneering … tools and best practices … ROI … change the way you work … same procedure as every year. I just checked if I am not listening to last years Connect, but no, that’s 2014 alright.
Sika is telling what they did. I wrote about that last year at the Snoug event LSCTY.
That guy was funnier last time and much more interesting. Probably nervous.

Pepsico’s Fern Johnson and a Pepsico add … curious, I don’t use any of their products.
Madam, you are talking way too fast and you read too much from the teleprompter, but IBM is certainly happy to have Pepsi there. Pretty cool implementation anyway. But has anybody an idea what they are using? SharePoint? But now I skip the customer experiences … it’s always the same and you can watch that by yourself.
Let’s look at the demos. I again agree with Stuart. Greenwell Bank must have a huge IT department. Many, many developers. That is probably not the impression they wanted to make.
Actually … I didn’t see any demos. If the room there was full of developers, half of them would be sleeping by now. It’s all about what you can do, but now how! Once in a while a product name comes up. Are customers happy to see that? I am not sure about that. Isn’t it about showing IBM’s products? I can only assume, that they use IBM stuff, but I didn’t see anything that explained the how and why? Did I just nod off?
Mail Next, browser-based and offline capable. Oh yessss. Looks like I wasn’t far off last week. An easier way of building apps, too? Getting even closer. Notes Client gone? Dunno, but I for the matter look forward to Mail Next. Count me in on the beta.
I also watched the session about Notes and Mail Next. Now I think Scott and Kramer should take the stage at the OGS. They made a very good interactive session. If they used the teleprompters, I did not feel it. The way they present, you actually believe it. Passion shows. If the two of them show up in the yellow bubble a bit more and pamper us partners, I am pretty sure the Ed’s shoes are not as big as they might think. A lot of the negative feelings among partners – I mean outside those exclusive circles that get invited to sign NDA’s – come from the lack of interaction.
On the other hand, I am still confused. There will be a Notes Next Client? Or not? Right now I am not even sure if IBM knows it.
It would be a good idea to register Kramers blog on PlanetLotus … and please open the comments. We want to tell you, when you are wrong, but also when you are right. Don’t be afraid, we normally do not bite too hard. Ed’s blood losses were acceptable and he was thinner then.
Now to wrap it up (as they say at the end), the OGS was boring. Frankly, I prefer somebody who can speak freely, if necessary just with a few cards in his/her hands. They all walk back and forth like tigers in a cage, and you just see, that they read from the teleprompter. Just once for heaven’s sake, watch a key note from Apple. That’s how it is done. Yes, it takes more time, yes, you have to rehearse it several times, but it is YOUR SHOW OF THE YEAR. Act like it is as important to you as it is for the audience. They come from all over the world to see you and hear news. They are passionate. Give them the show they deserve.
And way too many customer success stories. And for the Greenlife show, if you are not an actor, don’t act like one. It does not work. It does not look professional. You do not need to pretend somebody of an imaginary company. We all know you guys. We want to see YOU and not see you acting. Spare that for the Karaokee night. Whoever had that idea should be transferred to Nome for a winter season of penguin counting.
Now let’s see what the rest of the week brings.

Notes X

Will IBM announce Notes 10 next week? I don’t know, but I think it would be about time.
Since Ed’s departure to mobile, I feel a bit cut off. Nobody within IBM is really satisfying my need for news. The only thing I heard, is a new project about connecting MS Outlook, which is a good thing, that will save a ton of money for companies who suddenly find themself in the hands of some Outlook fan boys/girls. But that’s about it.
Now what? Whenever the number “X” comes into play, we expect something eyewatering (or naughty). OSX was something almost completely new, the Citation “X” is the flagship of Cessna (and Cessna employees will look extremely annoyed if you say “X”, it’s “ten”, got that?).
What could be the big step forward, to make Notes even in the eye of the general public THE thing to have?
First, an absolute must for the normal user is the ability to have several mail accounts, preferably in one view. Shouldn’t be that big of a deal. And for the security freaks we throw in policies controlling that stuff for good measure.
Second, making little applications should become easier again. Otherwise it will be Excel as the number one management tool for the forseeable future. I am still convinced (I am probably a slow learner), that Notes is the best management tool, as long as they let me do my apps. Third party solutions always have tons of features, that are not relevant to the problem. On the other hand, only 80 percent of the problem is solved, leaving me with the remaining 20 percent, which generate normally 80 percent of the effort.
Third, putting files in a Notes document as attachment, should be a thing of the past. That is probably the hardest part, but as long as files can be stored as XML, they could be imported and “kinda” rendered as Notes documents. Now wouldn’t that be nice? Since there is an ODF standard, that might even be possible without reinventing everything. I doubt that anybody could implement Microsoft’s “standard” without getting suicidal, but who knows.
It is great, that you still can use a Notes 2 application in Notes 9 and IBM does a hell of a job here, to make it happen, but one day, it’s just time to put an end to it and move on. I think it’s about time. Lotus Expeditor is way behind eclipse and I fear that it’s a dead end. It was a good idea, but Expeditor could not keep up with the rest and Eclipse itself has more and more problems to keep afloat. IBM has to cut the link between Eclipse and Notes sooner or later. IBM gave the open source community the IDE of choice for many years, but nobody can expect IBM to finance it endlessly. The idea of open source is, to develop its own momentum. If it doesn’t, it slows down and will eventually stop. That’s just the way it is. On the other hand, IBM can not expect, that Eclipse is developed in a way, that supports Expeditor.
But another question pops up. Is there still the need for a Notes client? Why not go web entirely? As long as I can not have wireless connections everywhere (even in that stupid tunnel after Bern), I probably want a client that works offline. But that problem has been solved before. HTML 5 is pretty strong. Now why not just ditch that old-fashioned client and concentrate on web? The problem could be, that we suddenly would have to deal with WebSphere. Although one heck of a good product, but probably not the first choice for an SMB. Buuuuuut, Quickr has gone that direction, Sametime too, why not Notes? Worse could happen. As long as there is some kind of migration path, it would not be the end of the world. Frankly, I would rather have a Connections Mail server based on Domino and easy to develop XPages applications, which work with a Connections installation, than continuing the beaten path which eventually is leads into oblivion, because as of today (that’s now, next week probably have changed my mind) Notes is sold as email with a twist. But that twist is not going to change a lot of minds anymore. Apparently IBM had success getting old customers back onto Notes, for whatever reason. Often only because the promised easy migration to SharePoint failed (and here we have to fight hard, not to look smug. That would be very unprofessional). That proves, that IBM is not abandoning Notes, but I am pretty sure, that some IBMer are also fed up with the old Notes and would rather start something new and leaving some ballast behind. After 25 years of backwards compatibility, that would be ok with me. And if it is still called Notes, I can pretend, that’s my old friend, but that only works if I (and that’s just me) get more of the daily general management stuff and not just some new email feature. Otherwise I can live quite happily with Apple Mail. That thing does what I need. It has its quirks, but so does Notes.
Oh and yes, there is all that cloud stuff. I am really thinking about moving to SmartCloud, but the on premises solutions will always have their market. More today than ever, because nobody likes the feeling, that some guys in trench coats and dark glasses are looking over your shoulder. It’s a matter of principle. Some will say, what the heck, the price to keep my own installation is too high and what does the NSA want with my CRM data anyway, others will pay for having better control over their stuff (or just the feeling). That’s ok. And there are those who had Notes for decades and use it to the max. They need something that replaces it without too much cost. And here comes the question that nobody today is ready or willing to answer. Can we live just with XPages? Can LS and Formula Language be abandoned? They are already on the move to the sideline and one day, there will be a Domino server without it. I personally am looking forward to it.
But since IBM and I never agree, next week will bring a lot of surprises. Either good or bad. Let’s see.