So is this the start of Lotus “Live“? There were many who wondered when IBM would reach into the collaboration software as a service market. It appears they have with a new offering “Applications on Demand (TM) Lotus Notes and Domino”. Catchy title though, that must have taken a few committees and excluded all the marketing folks
Is this a response to an emerging new market driven by the consumer focussed Google product which will drive enterprise custom from consumer use and experience? Is it a recognition that many companies don’t want the pain of managing infrastructure and would prefer software as a service models? I can’t see it being a reaction to Microsoft Live services as they have a much more mature offering. Whichever it is its good to see, and we’ll watch with interest as this develops. (Via Ed Brill)
Google added presentation tools to their portfolio. What I wasn’t expecting which we see is the ability to share a live presentation with a number (not sure of limits) participants, with persistent chat…add Google talk and chat and waddya get? hmmm…..
And Lotus announced Symphony their free open source based word processor, spreadsheet and presentation tool. I think the power here will come when connectors and integration into the various IBM document and content management and collaboration solutions are announced. I can’t see any independent non-collaborative office tool surviving 5 years from now.
If the Social Network is the Groom and the Enterprise is the bride then the father of the bride (lets assume thats all of our CEO / Chair) will not be best pleased with this rough upstart that is about to join the family. This week we’ve seen much negative press (BBC) about the waste of time in social networking sites. Mike Gotta wrote about a mashup between Facebook and Salesforce.com. Will this make the jump further from the SaaS providors like salesforce.com into enterprise applications? We are seeing moves from the big players with Connections and expect more to be bundled into SharePoint (either via codeplex or Office 14). But if we start to see a mashup capability between SaaS providers and Social Networking tools will we see the same between enterprise apps? Can the perception of many people RE: facebook be overcome? Stowe made some excellent points about the challenges social networking tools face today and they are all repeats on a different theme to [a] telephones on everyones desk [b] email for all [c] instant messaging. I see that once more people leverage the social networking tools to provide richer collaborative applications then we will see some interesting marriages. Will they be between public social networking tools or enterprise owned social tools, I’m in 2 minds right now, but it will be interesting.
300 engineers pilot Tuesday morning’s without interruption from meetings, telephones, instant messages or email. (Quiet Time Pilot Launched via michael). I try to perform similar by blocking time to get things done but half a day a week would be superb. Normally I’m lucky in that most mornings there is some quiet time before the time zones bring the Americas online.
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Well it tickled me. Chris Rothwell (Microsoft) and Ian Black (Autonomy) were representing their companies during an opening session discussion. Chris stuck to the rules and presented on slide. Ian bent the rules and presented 4 slides suggesting Autonomy always give you more …. at that point the person next to me wisely piped up “thats pretty bad for a search engine though isn’t it”
Its here, I’ve not commented on it yet so here goes my summary (I’ll keep it as short as possible):
The Architecture of the Client
Well its changed, the old look and feel has gone. Ed shows one comparison to the Outlook client on his site. The platform is Eclipse based so we should see some nice plugins being developed as more vendors adopt the Eclipse platorm – for example Documentum is not Eclipse based … well there is an obvious plugin waiting for someone to develop. Eclipse has initially allowed for Lotus to properly bundle sametime into the single client experience. I remain impressed with the presence information in Notes in terms of view based, document based, calendar view, calendar item etc….
Things I Like:
- Start menu style launch and type-ahead to find applications
- The power that composite applications will bring
- Offline working, the Notes client still outclasses everyone here
- Day at a glance (although I also see the cluttered experience it adds to as a negative)
- ACTIVITIES INTEGRATION… if I were IBM I’d be shouting about this from the rooftops
- Mail threads
- Improved follow up support (though the whole area of email to task to email to calendar to deliverable to email is still nowhere near where I would like in any email client – Notes 8 included).
Things I don’t like:
- Cluttered look and feel (its smoother but still cluttered). I have limited screen estate on an X factor laptop and this drives me mad, I know I can minimise it all but hey its extra clicks each time I switch from docking station with large monitor to laptop with small LCD.
- Extended monitor support
- THE RSS READER …. URGH!!!
What I am neutral on:
- The productivity tools (“open office” for Notes). This is an interesting deployment. I feel the power of the Office applications in future will be measured on the level of integration with portals, document repositories and team workspaces. Will enterprises adopt it? If so why? ROI … well ROI is becoming less of a driver as it is the value of integration between office tools and content management solutions (basic and advanced) which is becoming key. You only have to observe the drivers many customers site for utilising Microsoft Office with the SharePoint products.
Things I’m looking forward to but may not be on IBM’s radar:
- More widgets, plugins and mashups – here is where the power lies. Perhaps a lightweight mashup development environment would be useful here. Users would like to derive more value from their data, you only need look at Teqlo and Yahoo Pipes as examples – this is an area Lotus Notes would easily benefit from (without need for the full design client).
- More unified communications integration which will come with as newer Sametime clients are released.
- Better plugins for personal productivity tools – OneNote etc.
- More mail templates with content biased towards user type
Overall I think the client is a great improvement on previous versions. Will it keep customers loyal to IBM … probably not in my opinion, that will come with the wider picture and integration between Notes / Domino / Quickr / Portal / Connections and here IBM need to make their case and shout about their differentiators and success stories.
One thing is becoming very clear as unified communications becomes a reality. Presence in the portal must allow for voice conversations to be initiated. At present this is likely to mean that any presence based solution must recognise a client on the desktop and utilise the features of that client. Today Microsoft offer this but IBM do not [I would guess IBM are taking steps to remedy this].
On the other side of the coin I also expect to be able to start and IM and chat with someone without a thick client on the desktop. Today IBM offer this functionality and Microsoft (correct me if I’m wrong here folks) don’t. In the B2C portal space where authenticated customers access the environment I’d expect the customer to be able to IM me, I’d also expect to be able to IM someone from any machine with or without the IM client.
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Well having attended Gartner’s Portal, Collaboration and Content summit I am now absolutely sold on the tablet concept to the point that I don’t think I’ll ever want to work without one. The combination of Tablet and OneNote proved a powereful tool for my mind mapping….note taking….and audio recording….
This “nerdy” techie thing unleashed itself into an excellent tool which will mean that benefit won’t remain in my notebook as it did in previous conferences. My colleagues will gain benefit from recorded sessions, if I have the time I’ll combine them with the slides when I review the audio again … the challenge will be finding the time after a few days “offline” to both recover to a point of being in control AND reviewing my conference notes.
I have 2 batteries for the X60 and these were just about enough with some “splash and dash” charging during lunches and breaks.
OneNote and Lotus Notes
The one think I missed was the ability to synchronise to do items added to OneNote into Lotus Notes. I hope someone develops a tool to do this or if someone knows of one please let me know!
The other device which was invaluable was the BlackBerry. I refuse to pay £17.00 for 24 hours Internet access. Arriving before the event mean’t I couldn’t take advantage of the conference wifi first night and I did need to get a document out. So USB connection, file transfer, attach and send with BlackBerry. Just another very simple example of the benefits of mobile communications.
As for the conference it was well worth while for me as my role now includes responsibility for the technical product management and engineering of our collaborative solutions … which reminds me I must update my blog profile, linkedin, facebook, ….. (there must be an easier way! … which reminds me again I must check our plaxo).
I’ll blog some more about the conference or wiki it internally.