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In marketing, if the medicine tastes good, is it less effective?

By Andrew Pollack on 09/28/2003 at 10:18 PM EDT

Reading the pre-LotusSphere discussions in various places, I continue to be stunned by IBM total unwillingness to celebrate the success of this fantastic platform. There are so many positive things to say, with D6 being fantastically stable -- and Notes use clearly on the up-side in corporations. What's that you say? You don't believe it? Sadly, I have no numbers to substantiate my purely subjective observation that the battle in many companies to get rid of Notes has been dropped. I'm seeing NEW Notes client adoptions left and right and for the first time in years, I'm not having to battle irrational objections.

Don't get me wrong, every project is still a battle - but its a battle that is easily won now, since its based on a field of cost/benefit without the overhead baggage of bias and hatred. On a cost/benefit field I can win with Notes & Domino over and over again -- particularly when its a project that is based on function, access control, and content rather than transactions per minute. Most web sites are not bogged down by huge numbers of transactions. The problem with most content based sites is the two or three week turn around time on major content changes and updates. The sites are not overwhelmed with transactions, they are under whelmed with content. Marketing people cannot get their message out because it has to go through an I.T. bottleneck.

Meanwhile, IBM spends so much time priding itself on "Not being Microsoft" -- by which they mean not announcing things that are not ready, not marketing ideas and products they don't have, and not misleading partners and clients -- that they are totally unable to deliver any message that does not appear on its surface to be a sober, barely contained medicine spoon full of some powerful stuff that leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth but the hope of some future better state.

Guess what? The Notes & Domino story is a GREAT STORY. The Notes Client is NOT GOING AWAY. THERE ARE NO PLANS FOR IT TO GO AWAY. The Domino Server itself IS NOT GOING AWAY. These are fantastic, revenue positive products with more than fifty million ACTIVE users by even the most conservative counts.

Why was the overall message at LotusSphere last year "Things are going to change, you won't like them at first, but get over it." (you should have been at Business Partner Day if you don't believe me) when the actual information underneath the "tough love" message was fantastic? They committed for the first time ever in their history, to a path that took them more than two years into the future with new releases. They just don't do that, guys. They should have been dancing in the isles and proclaiming victory. You can bet that would have been the case at a rally of any of their competitors. Hell, Oracle and Sun proclaim victory every time they manage come out with a valid reason to make fun of Microsoft.

You may believe that Notes & Domino are too good to replace, or you may believe that a Lotus nextGen built on Java technologies, Served by Websphere, authenticated by Tivoli, and stored in DB2 UDB is the glorious path to the future. You already know my opinion, but it doesn't matter! The news for at least the next year or two is fantastic. The Notes client Lives, the Domino Server lives, and both get more powerful, more scalable, and more reliable. How do we know that? They committed to it LAST YEAR! Friends, who else would do that - that you trust to live up to that commitment? What happens two or more years from now though? Nobody knows. Our world changes too fast for any real prediction.

Anyone want to bet someone in Marketing can turn all that good news into a spoonful of reality in the form of a powerful medicine that leaves a bad taste in your mouth but offers the promise of a future better state?

Your friend, kicking the sleeping bear -- Andrew.

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