HCL and IBM Domino

A very interesting view of HCL, a company that has bought the Intellectual Property (IP) of several companies, IBM included.

HCL’s strategy is underpinned on investments of $1.1 billion in licensing intellectual properties (IPs) from companies and then building products around them for clients.

The trouble is some of the acquired IPs are decades-old and are ceding share to rival offerings. A case in point is HCL’s acquisition of International Business Machines Corp.’s (IBM’s) Lotus Notes, a product that is fast losing relevance in today’s world.

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“Building products around them for clients.” Maybe that will allow for increased awareness of Domino within the existing customer base. But it doesn’t appear that it will translate in gaining market share from Google or Microsoft. However, I don’t think that gaining market share is what HCL is hoping. Hoping for a cash cow, it’s more believable that HCL wants to get more revenue out of existing customers to recoup their investment. If they win a few new customers, well, that’s just gravy.

Author: Gregg Eldred

This is a weblog with some basis in IBM/Lotus Notes & Domino software, when I feel like it or think of something that might be interesting. Other than that, we'll see where this goes. The views expressed in this blog are mine alone, and do not reflect the views of NextStep Technologies, LLC. If you think otherwise, you are mistaken. © 2003-2020 NextStep Technologies, LLC. All rights reserved. The rights to all logos, images, etc., are owned by their respective owners.

8 thoughts on “HCL and IBM Domino”

  1. I guess I don’t really read that the way you do. If you consider Domino the IP in question, for example, building products on top of Domino and selling those expands the Domino base. You could theoretically hide the Domino, but why bother? Instead, you could expand the user base while selling the new product, then sell other products into those customers. That may not be how it pans out, but I certainly don’t reach the conclusion you do from the article.

    Clearly, the author of the article doesn’t believe HCL’s strategy will work, preferring instead the strategy by other firms of “investing in cutting-edge technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence platforms”. But an equally valid conclusion is that HCL is paying low rates to get proven technology it thinks it can revitalize, while the others are paying top dollar to get what are currently very speculative investments. Both are somewhat risky, but I think HCL’s strategy may be the less risky.

  2. “A case in point is HCL’s acquisition of International Business Machines Corp.’s (IBM’s) Lotus Notes” tells me everything I need to know. The article is ill-informed (“acquired”) and out-dated (“Lotus Notes”). Anyone who has paid attention to what’s happened since the announcement, who has an understanding of those who are involved on the HCL and IBM sides knows there is no basis for the claim. Although it’s possible HCL may build solutions for specific verticles (as IBM has for e.g. healthcare in other areas), that article is a complete mis-reading of everything I’ve seen and heard.

  3. Lookup on LinkedIn, Paul Withers, and you will see many people that call themselves still “Lotus Notes developers”. Maybe they are outdated, too.

    Clearly it is in IBMs best interest to collect some money for their IP. And to let figure out HCL the rest. Otherwise they wouldn’t sell the IP and use their own resources. But hey, now they get money for their IP AND have moved many of their employees off their own payroll. Smart move, IBM, smart move.

  4. The article clearly focuses on the deal from an HCL investor’s perspective and doesn’t delve much into the technology and how HCL may innovate going forward. I tend to agree with Ben that HCL may be viewing this as an investment in less-risky, proven technology (similar to buying into a restaurant franchise for example). For certain parties (IBM Business Partners), though, the IBM/HCL deal is a “good thing” — it demonstrates a clear investment in the Notes/Domino product line and therefore a protection/vindication of customers’ existing assets. However, I can understand how an HCL investor might not see it so favorably. There’s likely more money to be made investing in cutting-edge technology (assuming it becomes successful).

    I think what’s going to matter is exactly what HCL brings to the table in the next 12-18 months. Just tinkering around the edges of the current feature set isn’t going to work. Both customers and partners are going to need to see compelling new features introduced to really reignite the N/D market.

  5. I hope that you are all aware that the article is from an investment point of view. Would it be wise to invest in a company that has bought the IP of “Lotus” Notes and a banking platform that no top-tier bank will touch?

    And, I say “Lotus” Notes because, if I am honest, that’s how people refer to the program. Even people who have been using the re-branded “IBM” Notes. That is a legacy that is extremely difficult to change. It’s also an indictment of the marketing that has come out of IBM. They can’t even get people to refer to their product by the correct name.

    HCL could create game changing updates to a platform that’s been around for 20+ years. But will it matter if the vast majority of the decision makers still see it as “New Lotus Notes” with all of the baggage that name brings? They also like to add the word “legacy” to it as well.

    Lord knows, we need something to change. But I am skeptical that with HCL’s coding and IBM’s marketing, we will see material gains for the product.

  6. Having met some of the top managers of the Domino/Collaborative group at HCL personnally in the past months, there is one thing that is not being talked about. They kickass in terms of coding. They know their stuff. They are not just managers, but they are top-notch engineers and they have been ‘freed’ from the shackles of IBM management. There is a ‘skunkworks’ attitude and strategy. And an availability to the dev community at large that reminds me of the Lotus days.

    And Even if MS and Google were to own the market, there is a huge place for an alternative, for a different way, for something else. And even if small, this market share will translate into billions.

    Then, there are underlying technologies that Domino has that have so far not been replicated by its competitors because they are at not compatible with their architecture, logic, business model.

    Finally, the world at large ought to be happy that someone offers an alternative to what is on the market today, a different way to devleop and use software.

  7. May I add 2 quotes from another blog ?

    Software is about people, brains, ideas. It is about continuity. (by the way, everyone says Domino is old, why is not everyone saying Exchange is old ?!?!?!?). And HCL seem to have figured that out and apart from the IP, they got the brains, the DNA, the guys with the visions. this, more then anything else makes me feel positive about what is happening and what is coming.


    “We then saw a series of staff changes from IBM to HCL that were not part of the original deal. Moves that I suspect were not anticipated by IBM. Barry Rosen moved from a product management role at IBM for a product management role at HCL for the Domino family. Francois Nasser also chose to leave IBM to take up a role as Director of Sales and Services. And the real game changer for me was the move of Jason Gary to HCL. I had nothing but the highest regard for the way Jason had been transforming Connections with his vision of Connections Pink and long lamented that there was no sign of a Domino Pink — until now. The fact that he saw something in what HCL were doing with Domino that he would abandon his bold vision for Connections says a lot.”

    ” I am told 80% of the Domino development team at HCL still have Iris jackets, so the band is still largely together. “

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