Salesforce.com: Why Companies are replacing Lotus Notes

One of the beautiful, annoying aspects of the internet is that it never forgets. There are many, many examples of this trueism coming back to bite companies and individuals. So, let’s look at Salesforce.com.

Back in 2009, at Lotusphere, Salesforce was there, in force as I recall, to demonstrate how their offering integrated with LotusLive. Oh, it was a joyful time.

. . . At IBM’s Lotusphere event, salesforce.com will showcase how customers can bring together Salesforce CRM with LotusLive and Lotus Notes, to harness the power and innovation of cloud computing within their enterprises and across their customers.

Salesforce.com has also entered into an agreement with IBM to work together to further enable technology interoperability and joint customer success for businesses that use solutions from both companies.
“The cloud computing model offers customers a low-cost, low-risk way to manage their IT infrastructure,” said Polly Sumner, President, Platform, Alliances and Services, salesforce.com. “Bringing together Salesforce CRM and LotusLive can help customers further leverage cloud computing to streamline their communication and collaboration processes.”

Wow, kittens AND unicorns. It was beautiful.

Here we are, at the end of 2012. How’s that relationship between IBM and Salesforce working out?

Well, the reality is that Notes penetrated companies pretty darn well back in the 90’s (like a Nirvana song permeated the radio waves), and the departmental applications sprouted and filled all the holes that IT often couldn’t get to. Love it or hate it, Notes became a mainstay platform of the enterprise. In a recent survey we did of our Dreamforce 2012 attendees, we found that 73% did indeed still use Lotus Notes. And that 70.3% were considering replacing Lotus Notes, the majority within the year.

No hard numbers, as in “number of respondants,” but that doesn’t really matter. Of Salesforce’s customers at Dreamforce, 73% of their customers use Lotus IBM Notes and Domino. Of those respondants, as I read it, 70.3% of the 73% are looking to replace it.

[Blog intermission] I am rather shocked that there were that many IBM Notes and Domino customers attending. Consider that IBM probably has less than 50% of the total messaging market, and that of that number, 73% were at Dreamforce. I would venture to say that only other place on Earth, where more than 73% of the audience is IBM Notes and Domino customers is at Connect. Or one of the many User Group conferences held around the world.

What the heck happened from 2009 until now that soured the once exceptional relationship between IBM and Salesforce? Remember, it was all kittens, sunshine, and unicorns back in 2009.

If you read the comments to the Salesforce post, and I highly recommend that you do, Ed Brill chimes in. But then, so does Steve Wood, VP of Platform for Salesforce:

Let me start by making a bold statement: we like Lotus Notes! We also have a huge respect for Lotus Notes developers. It has been a transformational platform for many businesses. It illustrated how empowering the business to “do more” with software can result in amazing things. However, it’s old. And I think I could probably get you to agree that IBM has under-invested. It’s client/server (more on xpages later), users find the product to be pretty clunky from a UI perspective, workflow has to be coded, and it doesn’t REALLY have reporting (it has views). It’s just kind of… well… old and tired. All of this stuff means that Lotus Notes users and developers are looking for a new player – we hear that from surveying just those people. They like Lotus and what it does, but they feel trapped in an aging and underinvested platform – that’s where we see our opportunity (and we’re investing heavily).

I wonder if Salesforce will be at Connect?

Link: Salesforce.com Demonstrates Cloud Computing Solutions at IBM Lotusphere 2009

Link: Here’s Why Companies are Replacing Lotus Notes (And You Should Too)

6 Responses to Salesforce.com: Why Companies are replacing Lotus Notes

  1. Jason Hook says:

    I haven’t the time to read this morning so I’ve saved the articles. A couple of quick observations:

    Salesforces is expensive: £85 per person per month (for Enterprise, but most orgs would really need unlimited I guess);

    We’ve have had no end of problems getting people to actually use Salesforce which translate to money down the drain but on the upside you can get your data out of SF! Bummer you then have to put in the work to translate that into something useful;

    I have enjoyed hand crafting some integration between ND8.5.3 and SF using xpages, notesagents and standalone java apps. So I can attest to the fact that SF is a good platform to develop on, there is a lot to learn though.

    If you’re planning to ditch Notes for SF: first ensure you are well funded; have a great training department and a super enthusiatic project sponsor.

  2. Henning Heinz says:

    Ignoring the fact that Salesforce is a bit more than just CRM it still helps Microsoft that they have their own CRM (ERP) solution. It helps Salesforce that IBM has not (although they support Sugar CRM).
    And unfortunately I like the comment from Steve Wood. While IBM just complains that Salesforce is playing foul with statistics he is describing the product. Very clever although I will probably never become a fan of Salesforce myself.

  3. Ed Maloney says:

    I’m working with Salesforce these days and it is a good platform. it is more similar than different to Notes. As others have said, the license costs are 10x higher. Many of the criticisms of Notes also apply to Salesforce (clunky UI, encourages unstructured programming, proliferation of small applications, etc.) I really don’t see the business case for replacing Notes other than generic platform consolidation arguments.

  4. Wayne says:

    Steve is on point regarding the lack of investment in certain areas – reporting and UI facelifts definitely come to mind. IBM have been investing, but that is of little consequence when Xpages, Composite Apps and OSGi plug-ins are not on your radar.

  5. Alex says:

    Of course one of the key things to pressure Domino shops is that Salesforce did kill their Notes connector product.

  6. These numbers sound like a large opportunity for IBM business partners. This is a sample in which the numbers suggest there is still a large number of companies using Notes (73%) and the vast majority of them are looking for something more than what they have today (70.3%).

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