The #IBMConnect Slide that caused some interesting feedback #free1352

February 11 2014

So in my session with John Beck at IBM Connect 2014 - I put this slide up and just watched the reaction of the room.

Image:The #IBMConnect Slide that caused some interesting feedback #free1352

So I am just going to let this generate some discussion before I post more about it later this week ...

22 Responses to “The #IBMConnect Slide that caused some interesting feedback #free1352”

  1. 1) Carl Tyler says:

    Good job you said it and not an IBMer.

  2. 2) John D Head says:

    I specifically made sure that I said it. Notice the slide color - it's PSC, not IBM or Connect/Lotusphere. I am sure a few IBMers were happy I made that very clear.

  3. 3) Ben Langhinrichs says:

    While I understand the point you are trying to make, and my business certainly isn't focused on Notes client applications at the moment, I think such judgment is out of place. There are companies who are quite happy with the Notes client and Notes client applications. Should they change because others are not? Should they change because Notes apps are no longer cool? Should they change because IBM believes more in XPages?

    People who only write native Notes client applications are not a problem, if that is what is requested and needed by their clients/companies. People who don't know of any other options and write native Notes client applications when it goes against the interests of their clients/companies are a problem. But that is not what you said.

  4. 4) John D Head says:

    Ben - this isn't just about Notes or XPages. This is about the move to mobile. For Notes, XPages is the core option to get to mobile. There are other options (TeamStudio Unplugged is another - but its built on XPages as well). If you aren't looking at getting your apps to a mobile device - your apps will be dead. The numbers don't lie - 90% of apps will be hybrid (web and mobile) by 2017. Tech buyers at every level - size of company and level inside an organization - say that their resources and budget will go only to applications that mobile users can access by 2015. You also have to look at what IBM is doing - IBM Mail Next and Connection both are web and mobile focused - and your apps need to be the same to integrate.

    This is just one slide in a presentation, and taking it out of context narrows the scope (you can see the entire presentatoin here - ) - and I will continue the thought process on the blog over this week - and yes, you can call me an ASW for doing it over time and not all at once. But I want to start the conversation and get it out there. I think the final slide and statement is totally justified. We need to change the way people sell and think of themsevles when it comes to Notes applications and XPages.

  5. 5) Sean Cull says:

    +1 for Ben

  6. 6) Carl Tyler says:

    So what is the problem exactly? I can't agree or disagree unless I know what the problem is.

  7. 7) Ben Langhinrichs says:

    You are correct that I was taking it out of context, but you posted it out of context intentionally. You are even correct that most companies are moving actively to mobile, and that it is unwise not to both understand and consider mobile-ready apps. I still stand by the fact that I know personally of companies that actively develop Notes clients applications that they do not want on mobile devices. They are not a problem, and shouldn't be judged for actually getting value out of what they purchased.

    Partly, I am playing devil's advocate because I don't like the approach of labeling people as "the problem". Mobile development is an opportunity, not "the solution". Notes client development isn't "the problem", it is also an opportunity, albeit a more and more limited one. I advocate multiple tools, multiple opportunities and multiple solutions rather than the idea that there is only one true way. Pardon me now, I have trees to hug.

  8. 8) Bruce Elgort says:

    +1 Ben,

    I am seeing more companies that are not even considering web apps. Why? because they have the Notes client which fills their needs. Secondly, I see Notes customers first going through "webification" of Notes apps where needed. Again, not so much of this either. Now mobile, while popular with many, isn't that popular or needed with customers who are happy with their office workers using the Notes client on a PC.

    Customers come in all shapes and sizes. They also know what it takes to run their businesses.

  9. 9) Ben Langhinrichs says:

    One other minor note, John. After 30+ years in this business, I have learned that those who assert the future are likely to find it is less predictable than they think. to say, "The numbers don't lie - 90% of apps will be hybrid (web and mobile) by 2017." is to misunderstand the nature of such predictions. Nobody, and I mean nobody, can be sure of what the case will be in 2017, because it has not happened. There are no numbers to lie, because there are no numbers. Predictions that 90% of apps will be hybrid are eerily reminiscent of almost identical predictions about how many would be web based by 2007. It may happen, but I wouldn't bet your beach house on it. But regardless of whether it happens or not, it is not because numbers don't lie. There aren't any numbers to lie, only people.

  10. 10) Nathan T. Freeman says:

    The problem: IBM, its partners and its customers cannot make strategic investments in a platform based on atrophying technology and therefore can only make tactical improvements while maintaining backwards compatibility, thus continuing the downward slope of market relevance for all parties involved.

  11. 11) Ben Langhinrichs says:

    Nathan - that is certainly the problem for IBM and many of its partners. Its customers are free to either continue to get ROI on their existing software or to buy new software. So far, they seem loathe to give up on the ROI for what they have already spent, but that is not inherently a problem for them. It may be eventually, but isn't necessarily now.

  12. 12) David Jones says:

    Nathan - what would be your solution to that problem?

  13. 13) Nathan T. Freeman says:

    "Its customers are free to either continue to get ROI on their existing software or to buy new software." It is absolutely a problem for those customers, who are deliberately making only tactical investments in the platform precisely because they are convinced it is going away. Sure those Notes client systems remain apparently profitable for them, but it's just accumulated technical debt. Inflexible business processes, poorly performing applications, an overworked skeleton crew assigned to Notes with a two-year project backlog, a constant push from the CIO's office to migrate to Sharepoint or or Google Apps or Websphere -- these are common to the point of cliche in our community.

    @David well, of course my company offers my personal vision of what I think that solution is, but in terms of what the market should do? I'd say two things: 1) IBM should actively deprecate legacy technology in Notes & Domino to make it clear to the market what their strategic intent is; and 2) since IBM will never, ever in a thousand generations actually DO that, customers and partners should count on nothing coming from IBM to solve real world problems for real world customers and should instead fully embrace solving those problems themselves.

  14. 14) Patrick Kwinten says:

    we want ROI and mobile :-)

  15. 15) Ben Langhinrichs says:

    Nathan - Well put, though it is hardly a unique problem for Notes customers. SharePoint customers often feel the same way, as do customers with almost any technology more that five years old. There is a pervasive fear that your technology platform is becoming obsolete, mixed with an even greater fear of jumping to a new platform that may have worse problems. That's why the "Notes is dead" cry has resonated for so many years (and why Windows and Internet Explorer remain widely used).

  16. 16) John D Head says:

    Nobody is saying 'Notes is Dead' Ben - at least I am not. I am saying don't build Notes client only applications. Would it be better to say 'don't build any applications tied to a rich client' ? Of course the message was modified for the audience and a reaction. More follow-up to come on this during this week. My whole goal - is start a discussion. That has happened.

  17. 17) Ben Langhinrichs says:

    John - I don't mean Notes IS dead, or is going to be any time soon. I just mean that is why the cry has resonated with some customers for the past decade or so. As for the discussion, I think it is useful to have. Personally, I am quite sure there will be plenty of customers building rich client apps for a number of years to come, partly because a lot of large ships turn slowly. We still need to prepare for the eventual turn, but it will likely be less universal than you describe, and a lot less swift. There are still Cobol programmers out there. But there are also mobile developers, and I'd rather be the latter than the former.

  18. 18) Chris Miller says:

    You do not use mobile at your desk all day long. You use a client (even browser). I think "let's make everything mobile" will downturn as people realize always working isn't good either.

    Now social and consumer apps yes, those need more mobile enablement. But all enterprise apps? I am not convinced even by 2020 that number would be accurate.

  19. 19) Nathan T. Freeman says:

    "You do not use mobile at your desk all day long." I frequently use both my tablet and my phone while at my desk. I prefer consuming email on a mobile device. While I'm sure I'm not the average user, I know other people who feel the same way.

    Of course, this is all only relevant to people who have jobs where they sit at a desk. If your enterprise apps were mobile-enabled, who in your organization would stay tied to a desk?

  20. 20) Ben Langhinrichs says:

    Nathan - I'd wager over 90% of office workers, probably over 95%, would stay tied to their desks even if they were working on mobile devices more. The reasons you have a desk and sit there are many and have little to do with whether or not you can carry your work with you, which is why the advent of the laptop didn't eliminate desk jobs. Mobile devices make it easier to work while traveling and easier to take work home with you, but they have little to no chance of changing the basic way people work. Even at home, people tend to have a desk or table where they work, and they tend to want to do any serious work in a larger screen with a keyboard. It is wonderful being able to occasionally work from a mobile device, but that doesn't mean it is easy on a regular basis for most people.

  21. 21) Peter Presnell says:

    How much you willing to wager Ben?

  22. 22) Phil Warner says:

    As long as any application solves a problem there isn't a problem. Fear of obsolescence is constant for developers, but those that can demonstrate that they can consistently solve problems will have no problems.

    Most wagers will lose. The house of the future will always win. Just look for the best way to be flexible about how to get at data and services later, via API layers and open standards, and you'll probably be okay. Your notes client app can have a rudimentary REST API and web agents these days so it's not being built on a melting ice floe at all. Thanks can go to IBM for that. It's not as bad as people make out.

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