Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Domino an Application Server with Mail or a Mail Server that you can Runs Applications

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.


Anonymous said...

Hello, I am enjoying your blog. I do have many thoughts on IBM marketing to SMB. Iam a LFS partner, and also work with SMB's to out source their Admin to us. This discussion is interesting to me because LFS is a application server, based on Mail. So this is another description of what it is. The applications that run on Domino and or LFS are import to small business. But often they do not know this. IBM marketing is often Stealth marketing. You and the SMB really don't notice it ;-) Or it is marketed in a big business way, or technical way. none of these is interesting to small business. The LFS should be marketed on what it will do for the SMB, not on what the technology is, or how it works. This is to much info for these shops. They just need a good dependable platformm that includes a simple CRM, and activity management tool, that does all the things LFS does. The have the feature set right, just not the propaganda. And they have no clue how to get this to the correct people. (even though I have shared this to no extent with them...) By now you no doubt have noticed my soap box.... I take it with me any where people will listen to me about Domino for SMB. Nice to see you are like minded. Keep up the good work.

Domino Interface said...

I would not said that LFS is an application server that is based on Mail. It should be the other way around. Mail really aa special Notes/Domino database.

Domino and LFS is a very good foundation for small businesses to run their businesses, but the problem is that IBM so far does not have a focus marketing on any of their products for the small business market. It is always a side component when they push it to small businesses. Something that I have complained about a number of times is the web sites. There is not a central site that focuses on SMB. It is a reflection of how IBM does business. LFS is already beginning to have the same issue. There is already two sites covering LFS. I suspect a third one will appear when the IBM X system version comes out. There should be a single portal web site that covers IBM SMB solution part of which covers LFS, LFS hardware, and LFS business partners, and LFS applications.

Most products that run on the Domino platform are not useable by SMB. The interface does not lend themselves even to big businesses let alone SMB. LFS and Domino/Notes platform has huge advantages for small businesses which can deliver everything a business needs on a single server.

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