Unfortunately, I was not able to present my presentation, "SOA, Not Just for the Web" at the June GRANITE Lotus Notes Users Group meeting. Because of all the flooding and weather related problems the attendance was less than normal. And with additional emergencies that came up during the other presentations, it was decided that my presentation will be postponed to the next meeting in August. However after lunch, we had an interesting conversation about how IBM is marketing their products especially to the SMB. Things that came up included improving awareness through better education materials and giving away licenses of Notes and Domino similarity to how Microsoft uses giveaways to get people hooked on their products. I have talked about IBM's marketing to SMB in the past and its lack of coherently. With the Lotus Foundation Start product now shipping with Domino, one needs to ask how small businesses is viewing Domino and Lotus Foundations.
Is Domino an application server that comes with mail or it is a mail server that you can run applications? This is extremely important because it determine how you approach the SMB market. Notes and Domino's initial sucess was not as an email server but as a rapid development application server. It is critical applications and business processes that drive the need for IT solutions. Yes, email is an critical application that companies need, but for small businesses you are competing not only with Exchange, but with Yahoo mail, Gmail and many other open source solutions. This is also true when it comes to IM. What will drive Domino small business sales are COMPETITIVE applications that are critical to a business. These applications need to be designed for small businesses in mind in terms of look and feel and functionality. Too many times I have seen companies strip down their applications, cut the price and call it a SMB product. That does not work in this competitive environment where we have SaaS, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle and others competing for the same space. Notes and Domino with it unique capabilities offer so much possibilities to small businesses and it is a shame that more has not been done. People have been blogging and demonstrating all the new features of Notes 8 and Domino 8 which are great, but when marketing to small businesses will that drive sales, in my opinion no. If we market Notes and Domino just as an email server that can run applications then companies could easily migrate to Exchange because there is no critical reason why they should keep using Notes and Domino. On the other hand, if a company is running their entire business using Notes and Domino you have a keeper.
If you are a partner who works in the small business market or you work for a small business using Notes/Domino, I would like to hear your thoughts.