Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Is IBM rebranding the wrong thing?

As many have said, Lotus, in name, seems to be missing this year at Lotusphere 2011.
Fair enough, it is just a name or brand after all, and not a product, as Ed has said numerous times.
Happens to be a very well known name, albeit one which, to some, does not have a good name when referencing certain software.

But what if IBM is rebranding/renaming the wrong things?

Changing Lotus to IBM Social Business Solutions,or something similar, is not really what you want to do with a name that is synonymous with collaboration, sharing and 1-2-3. True, probably few of the 500 students that Group brought to LS11 have a clue or even seen what 1-2-3 is, but the point is, the Lotus name does have a life of it's own, and for the most part is not only respected, but seen in a good light.

I propose that renaming Notes and Domino is really what is important. This is not a new concept or idea, many people have pondered why this has not happened, a la Quickplace into Quickr which provided a huge boost to a dormant program.

My discussions over the last few days show that the idea of renaming Notes and Domino is unthinkable...inside IBM. Certainly there are those outside who would balk as well. But the bottom line is the workplace times are what tarnished Notes and Domino. So why not rename them?

Will renaming Notes improve the IBM email numbers of Notes mail users? Possibly. I can't see it truly changing much from the estimated 25-40% of the market, depending on your source, it has of Notes mail.

Will renaming Domino change how Domino is viewed? I say Yes.
Potentially that has it's own price to pay as well.

Why is this?
Simply because Domino has always been, and quite possibly always will be, a niche application server for an enterprise or business.

And by renaming Domino to something that is more indicative of its role as a special server could make it a big winner against Microsoft. The efforts of Microsoft to cobble together a bunch of pieces and make that act almost like 1 Domino server does not work as a good model moving forward and because so many are tarnished by Notes & Domino this could change the tide. And of course there is all that licensing and CALs.

Should IBM drop the pillars, and the colors and the names for a monolithic, single, umbrella brand? No idea, but as has been my mantra the last few days, if IBM has data, and interprets it incorrectly, we all lose. But IBM has the most to lose, which is why, what you see, and what you hear, may not seem compatible to you. IBM may be struggling with this issue, and no doubt others as well, who can blame them?

Domino applications exist nearly everywhere within the Fortune 500 companies. Few argue this point to the contrary. So my guess is IBM feels that changing the umbrella preserves this perspective and does not kill any customer accounts or provide FUD for its competition.

Compare the above line to renaming the Domino name. This idea may lead to all types of mayhem on the customer front, something IBM and Business partners do not need right now.

There is no obvious answer.

If my previous post held a vision for IBM and how they see the future, should they not also be engaging what they are asking us to do for clients? Transformation can be painful, but the outcome can be beautiful, just like a caterpillar that comes out a butterfly.

No matter which path is ultimately chosen, one thing is clear.

Domino and Notes mail are not going away for a very long time. Yes, Notes may become a browser based client only someday, that is where the world is going obviously, but Domino will most likely out live many of us.

And there is nothing Microsoft can do about it...short of buying Lotus from IBM.