I've received several comments this week,
directly or indirectly, that I've let the Lotus vs. Microsoft theme get
too out of control, too petty, too whatever. That edbrill.com readers
would like to see me spend more time on my own turf, discuss other general
themes in the industry, get more into my (daughter's) new Mac, talk about
2006 plans, etc. I get it, really I do. I'm going to explain
briefly what the last few months have been like from this perspective,
and move on for now.
There's no subtlety in a company's business plan when their CEO stands on a stage and says, "We have Lotus Notes opportunities coming out the yin-yang. I've never seen [such] a customer base waiting to be plucked." In 2005, Microsoft has put significant human and financial resource into their "Notes Compete" program. I've seen the presentations, read the information on bounties and bundles, seen screenshots of MS intranet pages with the quote above highlighted. I've talked to business partners who have been flown to Microsoft meetings at MS's expense. I know about Microsoft's quantifiable goals in this area. So let's be crystal clear about it -- regardless of recent comments by various Microsoft employees and supporters, Microsoft wants to beat Notes during their FY06. There's no other objective in their business plan.
All this talk about doing what's best for our mutual customers is nothing but a smokescreen. And I, and my colleagues, are especially disappointed when that guise is adopted by our publicly-visible former coworkers, none of whom left Lotus directly for Microsoft. It's hard not to take it personally when "IBM" is attacked, ten years after IBM acquired Lotus. Or when Lotusphere is criticized, as it continues to be one of the premier IT conferences anywhere. Or when those who speak about migration from Notes to the Microsoft platform publicly pretend that their message is instead about peace, love, and integration.
Do I want to do what's right for you as customers and partners? Absolutely. That's why the Lotusphere agenda features several speakers talking about Lotus and Microsoft integration, a topic I myself used to cover in Orlando. In many cases, these speakers are actual architects and developers who have implemented these solutions in the field, not just technical marketing people like myself. For what it's worth, we've taken the same approach with other 3rd party technologies, such as SAP and VMWare, with great speakers discussing real-world scenarios. (You can thank Rocky for advocating for more of these types of sessions)
Going beyond the Lotusphere-related discussion, the big picture is that Microsoft is aiming a lot of weaponry at my product's customers. One thing that's very interesting is that this firepower is needed at all. If it was obvious on its face that Microsoft had a technically superior solution, they wouldn't have to invest millions of dollars and an army of people to go after Notes. But all this effort has precious little to show for it, because in most cases, sound business analysis and decision-making wins the day.
And that's why Lotus is winning new customers from Microsoft as much as the installed base of Notes customers continues forward with the product. The last four fiscal quarters show the results -- despite the latest attack, the Lotus and Notes revenue bases are growing. Perhaps I should thank Microsoft for putting all this effort in -- since so many of the situations where I end up on defense actually result in net-new investment in IBM, Lotus, and Notes. The thanks for that are not simply with my salesforce, but ultimately with the engineers, product managers, architects, and everyone else who have made Notes/Domino 7 an impressive, valuable, and useful release, and for those who are already working nights and weekends to make "Hannover" the best rich client experience ever.
In the next few weeks, I promise that these areas will be my focus. We've got a lot of great stuff ahead, starting with Lotusphere (and Software University before that, for those IBMers and partners attending). I'm actively working on my year-in-review/3-year-blogoversary stuff, and we're going to focus (refocus?) on all the good in the world of Lotus Notes, now and into the future.