Dennis D. McDonald has written a balanced and well thought out response to Rod Boothby, which I think is well worth reading. His article actually brings to mind my own first correspondence with Rod, which was in January when I tried to post a comment to Rod's blog/essay "Turning Knowledge Workers Into Innovation Creators". The comment failed to post, so I posted my response as an article in my own blog, trusting that Rod would find it -- and he did and an interesting discussion ensued. In my response, I filled Rod in on the fact that Notes originally did give all users the ability to roll their own applications, but administrators in enterprise environments tended to be quite wary of giving users the ability to create their own applications (for some good, and some not so good reasons), and the repackaging and price-lowering move of separating Domino Designer into a separate product removed that capability from most uesrs. This came to mind because of Dennis' comment:
The bottom line, though, is that having someone stand there and tell me all the wonderful things that are possible using Lotus Notes is no help when I have a project due that day and the trained developer is working on someone else's project.
Now, I could be flip and tell Dennis that if he needs some development due on the same day that his project is due, he might want to consider a source of his problem a little closer to home than either Lotus Notes, his development staff, or his organization. And I could be mercenary and tell Dennis that his problem is clearly the "the" in his assertion about "the trained developer", given that there are indeed plenty of people available who would, for a reasonable fee, be able to solve his problem -- even on the same day! But the fact is that there's a strong ring of truth in what Dennis is talking about, and I came close to touching on it myself in a post a few weeks ago.
In that post I said that IBM needs a deployment framework for Domino-based blogs. The greater truth is that there needs a self-service framework for Notes and Domino applications in general. There needs to be something better than File - Database - New and a dialog that is incomprehesible to 98% of users. QuickPlace addresses that, but for browsers only, and for applications developed within QuickPlace only -- which means that it is useless for the vast majority of templates developed by the vast majority of Notes and Domino developers. There was also once a self-service framework called Domino Instant Host, with similar drawbacks. Some forward-looking organizations have set up their own self-service systems for Notes and Domino, sometimes in conjunction with a "sandbox" server environment where untested/unapproved applications can be easily deployed, and I think a 3rd party vendor might be able to do good business with a product offering that provides this, but wouldn't it be great if IBM provided it?
By the way... I've been meaning to address Rod's comments in response to one of my articles about ten days ago. I'll get around to it, but actually I'm kind of hoping that I might be able to address my response to Rod in person at Lotusphere. I was quite serious in my response over at Rocky's in which I suggested that Rod should be part of whatever panel they put together on Web 2.0 type technologies. I think it would be a win-win. And
1. Dennis D. McDonald in Alexandria, Virginia, USA10/23/2006 10:06:36 AM
Richard, thank you VERY much for the kind words. I appreciate your bringing your blog to my attention although I must admit I still don't get the "towel" references!
I imagine you must get a lot of Google generated "laundry" hits, just as I get a lot of Google generated "fast food" hits on my blog, given my blog's name (All Kind Food) and my own last name (McDonald).
Anyway, I understand why there is so much consternation in the Lotus Notes developer community about all the "hype" surrunding Web 2.0. Even though I think some of this is starting to simmer down (see http://www.ddmcd.com/get_real.html) I think in your comments you reference the seeds of why some business users appear to be seeking alternatives to Lotus Notes. In your comment you say:
"Now, I could be flip and tell Dennis that if he needs some development due on the same day that his project is due, he might want to consider a source of his problem a little closer to home than either Lotus Notes, his development staff, or his organization. And I could be mercenary and tell Dennis that his problem is clearly the "the" in his assertion about "the trained developer", given that there are indeed plenty of people available who would, for a reasonable fee, be able to solve his problem -- even on the same day!"
Having spent the last ten years as an IT management consultant (before that I managed software product development) I've gotten a lot of speeches from IT staff about how important it is to follow the rules. Of course I agree with the need for rules and discipline, but the fact is that sometimes things happen in business that require immediate attention and that's when users tend to grasp for solutions that APPEAR not to require as much formalism and discipline as what the IT department seems to require.
Also, I like your consideration of where the costs occur in switching out from Lotus Notes. I believe that one of the main reasons people don't understand fully what "total cost of replacement" entails is that they don't know what their current systems actually cost both from a technology and from a business process and operations standpoint. That's why so many replacement projects cost an arm and a leg more than the original estimate.