So this morning there has come some rather shocking news that UK based IBM Lotus peep Darren J Adams is off to Microsoft. Alas this is not the first and only Loti off to those pastures in the last six months. I won't list them here as that is really not the point of the issue.

I have also been reminded that some things should not be aired in public. To an extent that is true. This is not one of those times. Private conversations with IBM are, for the most part, a pretty futile effort. So I am left to the only medium I know. Public. Maybe I and wrong, maybe I am not but I will try to put this into terms IBM Lotus/Collaboration Solutions will "just get"....

For the purpose of this post I will use Group Business Solutions (GBS) as the example. It is meant to be a good example of GBS's talent, not a bad one. So here goes:

If Nathan, Tim, Chris 1, Devin, Chris 2 and Peter were all to leave GBS in a six month period and no one seemingly replaced them what would you think? Now, let say you were a GBS partner that had signed up for Transformer what would you think?

Now replace the above with IBM and the departed Loti and replace me as the sad, dejected partner.

The key phrase above is "seemingly" although apparently IBM would rather be "secretly social" in their own little Connections fiefdoms than publicly take on MS and Google in public. This has got to stop and IBM need to start swinging here and "That is not the IBM way" has to be replaced with a mantra that fits the 24/7 news cycle and hire appropriately. Keeping your head down inside of IBM just leaves your backside exposed.

In the next 3 to 6 months I have some major decisions to make, unfortunately it is getting clearer where my future lies.
Darren Duke   |   May 31 2011 07:13:14 AM   |    Lotus    |  
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Comments (27)

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1 - Ed Brill    05/31/2011 7:55:43 AM

Do you really believe that the entire success of IBM, a 100-year-old company, hands on any one individual's back? Or even a group of individuals? More importantly, do you believe we haven't replaced those that have left with other quality people? You may not know them as well because they haven't been in role as long, but that does not lessen their ability to be successful and lead IBM in new and equally-or-more positive direction.

One product manager left a decade ago and many heralded the end of Domino applications (or Notes/Domino overall). The product line today is bigger than it was then, and while clearly the execution hasn't been perfect in that ensuing decade, the market has shifted countless times and yet IBM still commands a significant worldwide share in both email and in collaboration.

I don't know if your last sentence is a promise or a threat, but if you are going to do it, don't go Buchan-style. If you are in, I would ask that you recognize that actually, private conversations along with public work well for many in the community....look at Sean Cull's posting about my proposed new app server today, even though he and my team have been talking about it for months. That's just one e.g. I am sure I can find several examples of things you've advocated for <cough>Express</cough> that have changed as a result. If you are out, anyway, then best of luck whatever you do.

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2 - Bill Buchan    05/31/2011 8:01:46 AM

Welcome to the new IBM Social media style, complete with personal attacks.


---* Bill

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3 - Paul Mooney    05/31/2011 8:07:16 AM

Bit of a cheap shot there Ed.

Im not going to comment much on Darren's departure. The product needs a face. In the USA, it is you. In the UK, it was Darren. A "face" is the cheapest form of marketing. Ala Richard Branson

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4 - Paul Mooney    05/31/2011 8:11:49 AM

I also think you are pretty spot on for your other comments though Ed.

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5 - Jackie Benn       05/31/2011 8:19:25 AM

If I as a customer had just bought into GBS Transformer, how would I feel?

How do UK-based IBM customers feel about the many departures over the past 12 months, with the destination of those people, and the continuing uncertainty over the brand?

Ed, you may be right, these people have been replaced, Lotus products are selling well, 100 new customers have been won etc. However, no-one knows that as nothing gets announced externally.

As it stands, it feels as though the Lotus brand is sliding away. What can you tell us to suggest thats not the case?

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6 - Ed Brill    05/31/2011 8:27:32 AM

But they haven't built their name recognition in the same way that someone who has been here twenty years will have done. Jon Mell is a great example: { and there are several others. We do need to get them more visibility at events and online. Working on that at this very moment. } and there are several others. We do need to get them more visibility at events and online. Working on that at this very moment.

Customers likewise we are having good success with Connections and LotusLive in the UK. Very good success. Sometimes there is a lag time in announcing them as customers of IBM tend to want to be successful before being referenced, which is not the style of my competitors.

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7 - Tim Malone    05/31/2011 8:28:27 AM

1) No, of course IBM's success does not hang on the back of any one individual.

2) A group of Individuals ? hmmm, depends on the size of the group. There's a fair few gone, key ones at that (and I suspect - more to follow) in the UK.

3) Do I believe that IBM haven't replaced with other quality people - frankly, No, I don't believe they have been. But if I'm wrong, it's only due to IBM's failure to communicate the fact.

Let's face it, there appears (I believe) to be a serious personnel problem at IBM in the UK, which has led people to look elsewhere. Whether this is to do with pay freezes or pension change, I don't know for sure.

People move jobs all the time I accept that, but when you work closely with IBM over many years, you get to know when something is amiss.

People are the bedrock of all organisations, and when any company loses the quantity and calibre that we are seeing in the UK, questions need to be asked.

I don't know how close you are to this situation, but if you do have any influence I would urge you to use it before it worsens; Darren's point about the future may be dramatic, but the sentiment will be echoed by many business partners here.

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8 - Darren    05/31/2011 8:45:05 AM

Please tell me I don't have a face like Richard Branson's...

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9 - Paul Mooney    05/31/2011 8:46:40 AM

But the hair...

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10 - Darren Duke    05/31/2011 8:55:10 AM

@1, some fair points and I'd taken most into account before posting.

1) I don't believe that the success is any one person. But for all their talk of "social business" IBM really do act like a 100 year old company. The revolving 18 month door in a given position kills momentum. Ed, you are the exception to the rule. You are doing great things but could you have done them if you'd only been doing that job for 18 months and moved on to something completely different? Both you and I know that is a resounding "no". You have stayed with a product and nurtured and "fixed" it. Try doing that with any other Lotus product. Head meet wall. Still, not to dilute your actions I really, really appreciate what you have done regardless of how this ends for me or mine.

2) One product manager left 10 years ago and the product almost died, because of his or her leaving? I doubt it but let's not undercut the damage MS has inflicted to both your and my bottom lines. Is it all to do with personnel? Hell yes. Both the ones that left and more importantly the ones who were promoted, screwed shit up for 18 months then swanned off to another product, brand or competitor leaving the wake of their disaster for good folks like you to spend 5 years clearing up. A death by 1000 cuts sums this up quite well. No one blow did this, but decades of blows is starting to mount up.

3) It is neither a promise nor a threat. It is widely known that the cloud will do in most IBM Lotus services partners in the western world (US, Western Europe). Quickr seems to be getting neglected again and Connections is a hard sell when IBM insists on showing ISSL only assets to customers make that a pretty barren landscape. I hope XPages will change all that but my appetite for a fight in a technology IBM has let become the punching bag of the entire IT industry is wanning and has been for some time. I see no change in IBM's opinion of that changing. Ever. (If you don't believe me, go interview for an IBM Lotus sales position in-congnito and prepare to be shocked with the image of Notes/Domino even with in your own sales force). All these reasons (and more) are forcing me to consider my (and STS's) future direction. As Lisa has said on This Week In Lotus, we are the canaries in the coal mine. And we are slowly hitting the bottom of the by one.

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11 - David (The Notes Guy in Seattle)    http:/    05/31/2011 8:58:07 AM

Looks like I'll have some more company at Microsoft then. (See my blog for details)

Darren Adams, watch for me online as soon as I get my credentials to login.

I wonder how many Microsofties have gone to IBM.

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12 - Darren Duke    05/31/2011 9:29:48 AM

For the record, the quote was mine from a Skype conversation earlier in the day.

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13 - Nathan T Freeman    05/31/2011 10:35:38 AM

I don't have a horse in this race, so don't take this as an expression of a position. But I think it's interesting that Darren lists 6 people from GBS, but only 3 of them are on the Transformer team. So it's 6 high profile, brilliant colleagues, but their visibility doesn't track directly to their impact on the technology or the business. Losing Tim or Peter would certainly slow progress, but my team has a deep bench, and it absolutely would not prevent our success. Even my own presence doesn't make or break the team, as evidenced by the fact that I'm currently on paternity leave.

Don't get me wrong; everyone you name is a highly valued resource and a major contributor to GBS. But we're well past the point of any small team preventing the success of the business.

I can only imagine that IBM is in a much stronger position in that regard than we are.

Not being able to retain strong contributors is certainly a weakness in an organization. Simply having a blog doesn't make a person a key contributor, though. Your initial list of 6 being a great example of confusing public visibility with critical contribution.

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14 - Henning Heinz       05/31/2011 11:06:09 AM

Well maybe this is all true and IBM Collaboration Solutions is in good shape. But if IBM interns move to Microsoft I expect they don't do it because they are fed up of winning.

And to, in some way, answer a question (at least for Germany). Bernd Vellguth once worked for IBM. He now works for Microsoft. He does make a difference (unfortunately, from an IBM perspective).

And if you ask me he has not been equally replaced. I expect the same to happen for the position of Darren Adams. But as IBM Collaboration Solutions does not seem to do well in the UK (hearsay) one person probably can't fix it alone.

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15 - Ed Brill    05/31/2011 12:24:49 PM

In my initial comment, I made a negative personal style reference to someone not a party to this discussion at the time and it was inappropriate for me as an individual and especially an IBMer to have done that. My apologies to Bill and the community.

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16 - Volker Weber    05/31/2011 12:33:43 PM

Henning, Bernd was a Lotus BP. "IBM intern" would be a "IBM Praktikant". Be careful. :-)

Bernd does indeed make a difference. He is behind a lot of the recents Microsoft wins from IBM. And he hired other IBM people that make a difference at their new employer. Former Lotus competitive guy, Andreas Pleschek for instance.

I have no doubt that Darren will be as successful. So, by and large, you won't be missing him for long.

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17 - Henning Heinz       05/31/2011 1:32:58 PM

I (thankfully) stand corrected. Unfortunately the part about Bernd (and his team) being quite successful still holds true. I am not so worried that good people leave IBM but that there seems to be an assumption that a few small changes can turn the tide.

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18 - Mark    05/31/2011 2:00:52 PM

It's a bit disheartening to realize that you've read a thread like this one and your first reaction was "Did I hit the wrong key and read one of Darren's old posts?"

Yes, there are and have been Lotus Notes champions (some even employed by IBM Lotus :-), but why is it that we feel we need to keep revisiting this topic? This year I attended my tenth Lotusphere, and I cannot help but feel that at least half of the ten had a nontrivial amount of time and energy devoted to the "Is Lotus Notes dead?" issue, which was contributed to further by the revolving-door nature of the marketing manager position. Look at the LinkedIn "Gurus of Lotus" group and you'll find yet another rehash of "Is Lotus Notes fading away?"

Does anyone think that there are forums dedicated to the question "Is Microsoft Exchange dead?" I conducted a very unscientific test using a search engine. The query "Is Lotus Notes Dead" produces 1.25 million results; the phrase is even suggested as a search term. "Is Microsoft Exchange Dead" produces 2.7 million results, but 95% of the pages referenced (I looked at every one and it was somewhat gratifying) have to do with how to resurrect an Exchange server that's gone casters up.

I'm a big fan of Notes and Traveler, and my current deployment of same replaced Notes and BlackBerry. Notes stays because it makes it easy to keep life considerably more organized (synching a laptop, desktop, smartphone and tablet). When I explain it to business acquaintances, their eyes bug out in disbelief. But when you use a Lotus Knows-branded tote bag and the most common reaction is "These Lotus guys, didn't they used to make software?" it becomes painfully obvious why we keep having this conversation about the imminent death of the product.

I hope Darren Duke's assessment that the cloud will kill Lotus service companies misses the mark, because I think that there is a strong case for hosted private cloud installations of Notes, Traveler and Sametime in the largely ignored SMB market. But I can't help but ask Lisa Duke: Is it just a coincidence that most canaries are yellow?

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19 - Mark Roosevelt    05/31/2011 2:21:57 PM

My apologies. I meant to include my full name in my comment (18). -- Mark A. Roosevelt

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20 - Mik Oakley    05/31/2011 2:50:17 PM

Ive used "notes" and "domino" for 15+ years. I don't give £&£!?& what it's called. We have introduced 7 new customers to domino in recent months. Not one of them bought domino. They bought a business solution that happens to run on a black box in the office. They are totally unaware of the "faces" of lotus , IBM , Microsoft. They do however know the face of scoped solutions. So I don't really see too much damage in our marketplace with leavers and joiners within IBM. I await the IBM announcements ed has hinted at re low end hosted notes servers as this would be ideal for us. We can then completely sell solution and the customer would not (perhaps even should not) care about the tech we choose to use to deliver it. Dont get me wrong. Key people in an organisation can, I'm sure, make a he'll of a difference. However I'm quite please microsoft have got hold of another key player. Did I mention we also do Microsoft based solutions ? In the lower end of SMB it helps to keep your options open ;-)

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21 - Bill Buchan    05/31/2011 3:25:23 PM

Thank you, Mr Brill.

---* Bill "Collateral Damage" Buchan

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22 - David (The Notes Guy in Seattle)    http:/    05/31/2011 5:32:35 PM

@14 You pose the question "Can someone make a difference?"

To quote Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

I can't say I've heard of anyone leaving Microsoft to work for IBM, though Amazon, Google, Facebook, RIM and others have all done this quite successfully. It is becoming a real problem for MS. In fact, that is precisely why those companies all opened offices here in Seattle. Meanwhile IBM has 2 facilities here, but they are so low profile and obfuscated, you wouldn't know it.

So why don't we hear of anyone from IBM's marketing unit that got recruited away to Microsoft?

See { for my story, though as Nathan points out ("Simply having a blog doesn't make a person a key contributor") I'm probably not such a big loss to the community, lest it be for my participation at } for my story, though as Nathan points out ("Simply having a blog doesn't make a person a key contributor") I'm probably not such a big loss to the community, lest it be for my participation at

{ }

and my endless list of questions in the "Ask the Developers" session at Lotusphere.

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23 - S Blatter       06/01/2011 5:37:11 AM

The resolution is even simpler than just head count or staffing or having the right ppl in the role... its about the age old IBM conversation of how are the Sales team et al are incentivized and the self perpetuating demise of the brand. i.e over the last 10 years plus IBM have not targeted the sales team on renewals or 'Stream' with the focus of the customer focusing sales team being purely on driving net new business = #FAIL.

This is fine to a point, however by having a sales team, who by definition are looking to sell only new products into customer suggests the core foundation stones that have been in place for some time (Lotus Notes & Domino) and their core features (the ability to develop applications etc) are being forgotten about...and instead the team are looking at just selling the 'new products' under the guise of land and expand... and leaving the Business Partner ecosystem & some temps in Dublin to be solely responsible for the renewal business.

So in essence, as the sales team et al are focusing on re-wrapping a renewal or trying to sell net new just to hit numbers, the customers who have N/D are being drawn towards the light of MS... and dropping out the back door. As someone stated above, the customers who are using Quickr & Connections are generally larger.. but the majority of customers dropping Lotus are Midmarket SMB.. trying to sell new products to these ppl is almost a culture change and that's not going to come quick.. and so in the meantime the customers are dumping the platform of Notes / Domino for say SharePoint as they don't feel the value of what they have purchased from the vendor.

We all know if we are talking technology v technology Lotus would win... and even now we are doing things in SharePoint we where doing in N/D in 1998... why cant the IBM Lotus Sales ppl be incentivized on 'stream' too surely that would benefit everyone and potentially negate customers being forgotten about until a potential re-wrap opportunity is available.

Losing DJA is a massive loss to IBM Lotus UK.. and just again reinforced the destruction of the Lotus brand... the power of the products coming through maybe be technically fantastic and unique but the messaging from IBM to the customer masses is so far off the mark it is unreal

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24 - Bob Balfe    06/01/2011 7:23:42 AM

Change is inevitable, I have learned that over the many years working on Notes/Domino. After 20 years myself as a customer and then a core developer for Notes/Domino I have seen many come and go and new people always step up. IBM has a massive amount of very smart people and to think a handful of people will break the company is just crazy.

That being said, I think tight communities like this one feel the hit the most. They need familiar faces, champions and friendships to make it thrive - that is what a community does. So I do think when people leave it affects the community and morale more than anything.

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25 - Carlos Casas    06/01/2011 4:29:46 PM

Perception often creates reality. Never mind the intelligent banter but realize that IBM has a net positive each quarter for Lotus, albeit small numbers. Under those covers, Lotus is winning in emerging markets. It's unknown or not actively public, what the numbers are geographically. Short of it is, the community perceives wins and losses one way and IBM sees it another. Sure people make a difference and the rock stars of Lotus creates excitement within the technical community however IBM is in the business to sell technology. That is the bottom line. According to those quarterly reports, the momentum seems positive but I'm not paying that close attention to be absolutely sure.

So aside from all the pontificating, is Lotus creating value for current customers? Is Lotus growing? (numbers suggest slow growth). So perception in this case (based on numbers) is reality from a global perspective.

For us smaller partners, lets take the low-hanging fruit while it's there and focus on technology that excites us. Think of it as an opportunity considering the software landscape surrounding small and medium sized business.

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26 - John Ryan    06/02/2011 8:02:49 AM

Darren, as a fellow business partner, I feel your pain. After the amount of time and money a BP spends plowing into their companies and products, it's hard to watch somebody with a (seemingly) big stake and contribution to a community, leave that community. It begs for questions. It feels like a threat...and carries an emotional toll.

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27 - Chad DeMeyers       06/03/2011 1:33:21 AM

When it comes to being an "IBM Business Partner" I have worked for several companies that were fairly major players in the Notes/Domino world. I still love the technology (in fact, I upgraded 2 companies to 8.5.2 in the last 2 days); but, by choice, I'm not nearly connected as I used to be (like Darren is now).

Things change... I get that. They always do. But this has not changed in last decade --> IBM/Lotus has done a very poor job in marketing Notes/Domino technology. I had a conversation with Alan L. probably 10 years ago and I said the same thing then.

It's late, and I'm just thinking out loud... I guess I really just wanted to comment on this from DD's original post --- "IBM need to start swinging."

Swing, tell your story and infom people about your capabilities.

Chad DeMeyers