Sure, a bit of a clickbait title, however, why not?
I attended the #Domino2025 virtual jam today. The first half (or more) was primarily focused on Application Development. The remaining time was on Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Sametime, the Notes Client, and iNotes. Throughout the presentation, the moderators allowed 10 minutes of open Q&A and also asked us to answer some survey questions. Sadly, none of the survey questions included an option for “Not Applicable,” “No development needs,” or similar answers. You had to pick an option, even if it didn’t apply to you or your company.
It was during the conversation about mail, calendar, and the Notes client that I perked up. I watched the online Q&A, I listened to the speakers, I listened to the audience. It was then that it struck me – IBM is asking the same questions they’ve asked us over the years. The online Q&A was filled with the questions you’ve heard and asked throughout the years. The answers were all pretty much the same, “thank you for your feedback.” In fact, IBM had a Twitter widget in the Jam, that was watching for mentions of the hashtag #Domino2025.
Being a bit of a realist (I’m trying that word out, instead of “cynic”), I tweeted and received a reply:
Now, who among you have attended Lotusphere/Connect/whatever over the years? Did you attend the sessions “Ask The Developers?” “Ask the Product Managers?” That line, “we’ll take it back with us,” is a handy phrase from both of those sessions. Realistically, it means that nothing will happen.
Now, back to the Jam. What is the point? IBM is asking the (remaining) faithful for their opinions. I ask, what have you done with all of the opinions we have provided to you over the years?
Let’s start with IdeaJam. There are still ideas, voted on by people that work with the products, on that site. What did you do with any of those ideas? Why wouldn’t you go to a site that is designed for ideas, mine them, and implement the most popular ones? This site goes back years. At any time in the past, all you had to do was to take a look and implement some of them. You would not be in your current position of asking, yet again, for our thoughts and ideas. Further, if you had implemented some of the more popular ones, you may not be in your current position.
Next, every year, in January or February, you gathered the faithful in Orlando. You had two, specific sessions, where the audience asked for features, direction, and wishes. I am guessing that none of you ever wrote down the questions or the answers and never “took it back with you.” Although, I do know one person that did. And you didn’t like that he would return, year after year, to simply ask for an update. Yet, as far as I can tell, nothing ever came from those sessions, popular as they were.
Finally, your sales reps and technical reps appeared in companies that used your software. They were told certain things, they were begged for certain things. What happened to all of that feedback? Who collated that information and turned it into enhancement requests? Which Product Manager added those items to the build list and delivered those features?
It is telling that the very people that bet on the success of IBM software, that shared their wants and needs with IBM, were, in essence, ignored. These were people that made their living selling, listening to customers, upgrading, creating applications, using your software. And they all told you how to make it better. You chose not to listen.
Now, here you are again, hand out, asking for feedback, answering with “we’ll take it back with us.”
I’ve read many editions of this book, in many different formats, the ending is always the same.
11 thoughts on “#Domino2025 Virtual Jam – What’s the Point?”
Hi Gregg, thanks for the feedback.
We conceived of the roadshow and virtual jams as a way to push the reset button.
Of course, we have all of that feedback. In some ways, though, it needs a cleansing. Will it really help this product line in 2018, 2020, and beyond to do some of the things that were suggested to improve composite apps in Notes 8.5? Of course not. We have internal ideation, PMRs, our own backlog in Github, and of course external sources like the forums, ideajam, etc. I have a great product management team that has been at the front line over all that time.
But this is a one-shot opportunity to re-validate ideas that have been discussed for a long time or in some cases generate new ones. Our ability to execute in the last several years was nowhere near what I or anyone wanted. There are many reasons for this, different priorities, investments, and market conditions. But with this partnership to build Domino 10 and beyond, there are some new opportunities. So we collectively decided to go open the lines of communication anew and see what we would hear.
The virtual jams are nowhere near as interactive as the face to face – it’s a challenge of the format and technology. Appreciate that there are weaknesses to our polling and maybe we can shift that before we do the others.
I should say that so far in the real and virtual jams, very few “out of left field” ideas have surfaced – the good ideas are ones that have been discussed internally or externally, to your point. But this gives us a chance globally, in various languages and venues, to see whether and which ideas will make sense going forward.
Of course, we won’t get them all done in V10 – that’s the next challenge of expectation. But we will do demonstrable work there that – is on us to prove to the market – shows there is investment anew. And hopefully that will give us permission to continue this conversation.
Golly, I wish I could argue a different opinion.
I appreciate the concerns, but I looked at Ideajam just a couple of weeks ago. The number of ideas on there with more than 100 votes is equally disappointingly low. But youo asked what’s been done with them. Of those with more than 100 votes, a good percentage have been progressed – even during a period of time where progress on Domino was in abeyance: updating look and feel of standard templates (the request pre-dated XPages), Paster Special, increase field size, improve notes.net forums (we got XPages interface), support Phone, allow URLs to be clickable in edit mode, get rid of need to use zappers to kill Notes processes, externalise view indexes, RDB access for XPages are some of the highest voted.
You say nothing came from Lotusphere sessions but one request I made – free Domino server license for developers – was taken forward by Pete Janzen and then Barry Rosen. What we have is not only free Domino server license for developers but for any non-production use.
Many other areas have been taken forward by the community, much of what has been possible because of the extensibility that has been built into the product. ODA couldn’t have been done without XPages Extensibility that came in 8.5.2.
More recently the approach IBM took on the upgrade to Java 8 (splitting it across multiple feature packs) was influenced by the community, the approach taken was one that came out of a call I was on with various developers. The same occurred with the re-prioritisation of Domino on Docker.
I’m not saying it’s all rosy. And it’s often a slow road (Domino server license took several years for what is basically a legal issue). But neither is it a brick wall that gets no progress, as these specific examples show.
Same, really felt the need for a ‘not applicable’ option as well. And Also the moderator kept saying ‘most people in the other session voted for X’ before people had voted. This maybe would sway those that didn’t know what to choose.
I verbally expressed the need for NA. This effort is obviously seeking to assist the customer base. If you like using Notes then the point is this is a very important effort. The real question is if supporting the customer base alone will spark the creativity of a visionary.
The more the Domino2025 people work with the people using Notes/Domino, the better chance they will develop or spark a visionary. When I say the people using Notes/Domino you must include the end user. The roots of Notes was an end user enabler which included that an end user could create their own application for their team at a place of work. Maybe the survey questions should be what did Notes do for you at your company?
The main point raised by this post is credibility based on previous experiences, which is fair. Even last year we expected “something that every developer will be happy with”, but nothing real happened.
I attended the virtual jam Monday and what we should expect now is a roadmap by Think’18. A roadmap, come on! IBM/HCL should showcase real code in action @Think if they want to restore the trust. I know many developers in our customer’s organizations who currently have a hard time justifying Notes/Domino. Only concrete features that they can leverage asap will help them.
Moreover, I heard several times during the jam that they cannot deliver everything for 10 but they’re also planning for 11, as a way to justify that 10 might not match our expectations. If this is the case, I’ll be very concerned by the future of N/D.
I think Gregg hits all the points here, if I can paraphrase, IBM keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. As to Ed’s comment about composite applications, a quick search of IdeaJam.net does not bring up that many entries (<60) while a search for email is over 280 as is Xpages. If it's pain points IBM wishes to address then they should look no further than the "Top Idea Tags" cloud on the right side of the IdeaJam home page, (spoiler alert) but really we all know how this movie ends…..
Gregg, thanks for the pingback. I went back and looked at my blog posts over the years about the “Ask IBM” sessions. My first blog post about the session goes back to 2010. https://davidhablewitz.com/2011/01/11/the-real-story-behind-what-happened-at-ask-the-developers-session-at-lotusphere-2010/
In reviewing over the years, I did hear “we’ll take that back with us” most of the time and without results. Here is an example from 2015:
Note that in 2015, questions 10,11,12 were about getting feature parity in Greenhouse with what we already had in ideajam. Ideajam.net was a fantastic forum with widespread engagement that was abandoned by IBM in 2014 with the promise to use Greenhouse as that source, which was subsequently also discarded, destroying the last bastion of a community as well as a home for feedback.
The last 2 years I started providing the questions in advance so there would be time for IBM to research and give the audience an immediate response in the session. That has made a difference. I didn’t post the questions and responses from 2017, but one of the things I asked for was “Please give us a Domino 10.” And to IBM’s credit, it is now coming!
These jam 2025 meetings are a good flash in the pan to get things started again. But if we are to get a sustained, enduring fire, we need a persistent flame in the form of an online community that is nurtured and properly cared for *without rebranding*.
Whether it is product names or conference names or software brands or online user community resources; moving them around, changing how they work and rebranding them all harm the community and lead to its decline in reputation or use. The Top Innovators scoreboard on IdeaJam was a “who’s who” of talented Lotus professionals, many of whom have since been recognized as IBM Champions. http://ideajam.net/IdeaJam/P/ij.nsf/topinnovators?readform
It was tossed in the trash. You can’t do that and expect to see growth in sales and new customers.
But this engagement with HCL has the promise to invoke a movement. HCL is akin to new feathers on the Phoenix. And if it is to fly, it will need an equal investment in the winds with a legitimate marketing campaign targeting NEW customers the likes of which we haven’t seen since 1999 and the year of “I am”.
You are not going to see new customers, users or developers if there is fear that the platform will not survive. Thus the platform needs to be adaptive to industry change and must be bleeding edge. Both would require a powerful vision which projects a future. The future can not be a commitment to spend, that will fall short.
It’s up to the Notes/Domino product team to prove to this to the industry and the larger IBM will follow. I’ve gotten a little tired of defending Notes/Domino, but I still do. I explain the proprietary innovative features which have always been a part of Notes, for example that Notes was the first large scale NoSQL solution provided to the industry and explain the roots of Cloudant and CouchDB was actually Notes. Unfortunately, explaining a platform is based on current innovative solutions does not get people to leave the Cloud industry to move back to Notes. I recommend the vision that Notes become the “Cloud in a Box solution” and a leading edge “Notes Domino Cloud Vendor solution”..
“Cloud in a Box” if you install this platform in your location, you have your own private cloud. If you need to deploy your applications, then you can find a “Notes Domino Cloud vendor” who will sell the commodity of the Notes Platform. The Notes Domino platform must become a commodity which through compute cost and service competition would drive costs down. Perhaps even beat Amazon and Google with a lower cost model.
I agree with Gregg and Ed. I made a list here http://www.notesexperts.com/JPBlog.nsf/dx/11092017114618AMJPLMNZ.htm of ND10 features that I believe would be useful.