Four Key Areas for Enhancing the #EmployeeExperience in the #FutureOfWork

January 9 2019 08:54:07 AM Add/Read Comments [0]

Event Review: Our People Centered Digital Future

December 13 2018 08:53:56 AM Add/Read Comments [0]

On December 10, 2018, Constellation Research hosted a historic event with key Internet pioneers, the People-Centered Internet coalition, as well as the next generation of positive change agents. Titled “Our People-Centered Digital Future,” the event recognizes that 50% of the world is now connected to the Internet. This inflection point marks an important moment for examining the “unfinished work” of the Internet and discussing the community norms, human rights and social contracts required in this exponential digital era. The event also aligns with the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations.

Here is my review of the event.

Useful Links:

Our People-Centered Digital Future - December 10, 2018.  Videos from the event can be watched here.

People-Centered Internet (PCI) is an international coalition of positive #ChangeAgents created to ensure that the Internet continues to improve people’s lives and livelihoods and that the Internet is a positive force for good with helping people achieve their goals and aspirations.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations.




HCL Acquires the IBM Collaboration Software Portfolio

December 9 2018 02:27:14 PM Add/Read Comments [0]

What's in a name? That which we call Notes
by any other company name would smell as sweet;
So Notes would, were it not IBM call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which it owes
Without that title. 

Ok, perfection may be a stretch, but there is no denying the significance Notes has had in the collaboration market over the last 30 years, both in terms of email, applications, offline support, security, and more. It’s no secret that Lotus Notes (Plato Notes? VAX Notes?), I mean IBM Notes has played a vital role in my professional life, so I greet this week’s announcement from IBM and HCL with both nostalgia and hope.

Before we begin, let's look back at some key timeline events:
1982 - Lotus Development Corporation was founded
1984 - Iris Associates was founded
1989 - Iris released Notes v1
1994 - Lotus acquired Iris
1995 - IBM acquired Lotus for $3.5B
1996 - The server was renamed Domino (v4.5)
1998 - IBM acquired Databeam and Ubique which together would form the foundation of Sametime
2007 - IBM Lotus Connections v1 (built on WebSphere, not Domino)
2017 - IBM partnered with HCL for the development of Notes and Domino, with IBM retaining Sales and Marketing
2018 - IBM and HCL release Notes/Domino v10 (after quite a gap since v9)
2018 - IBM sells the collaboration portfolio of Notes/Domino, Connections and WebSphere Portal to HCL for $1.8B, essentially exiting the collaboration software market
2019 - sometime in 2019 the IBM era of Notes/Domino will end and HCL Notes/Domino (unless they rename it) will begin

BONUS: Take a look at this wonderful Highlights of LotuSphere video produced by Bruce Bordett

The News
Dec. 6, 2018 IBM and HCL announced a definitive agreement under which HCL will acquire select IBM software products for $1.8 billion. 
  • Appscatn for secure application development,
  • BigFix for secure device management,
  • Unica (on-premise) for marketing automation,
  • Commerce (on-premise) for omni-channel eCommerce,
  • Portal (on-premise) for digital experience,
  • Notes & Domino for email and low-code rapid application development, and
  • Connections for workstream collaboration.
I’ll focus on the last three items: Notes/Domino, Connections and Portal, and how this announcement differs from the initial 2017 partnership between IBM and HCL.
  • 2017 announcement: The deal was limited to Notes/Domino, Sametime, and Verse
  • 2018 announcement: Notes/Domino and Verse, Sametime, Connections, WebSphere Portal

​​​​​​​MyPOVThe original deal focused only on the Domino-based platform, leaving the WebSphere based products with IBM. Now HCL will take over Connections and Portal as well. HCL executive Jason Roy Gary was one of the architects behind rebuilding Connections using a more modern modular architecture (a project codenamed Pink). When he left for HCL, the future of Connections was uncertain. With Connections now falling under his management again, it will be interesting to see where HCL places their focus and prioritization.

I believe customers benefit from unified/seamless experiences between products. When Notes/Domino and Connections were “separated” I was concerned about the future of integration between the two platforms. With HCL now owning both, it will be easier for them to develop a platform that can compete against the likes of Microsoft SharePoint.

However, the flip side is that when the two were separated, it appeared HCL would be able to direct all their focus on rejuvenating the rapid application development features of Notes/Domino, leaving IBM to focus on the social/collaboration features of Connections.

Many customers and partners struggled with the complexity of Connections based on its WebSphere architecture and preferred the simplicity of Domino. Will HCL continue both product lines given their architectural differences? Will they have the resources to develop, market and sell both?

It’s important to note that IBM Watson Workspace is not mentioned in this deal, most likely signalling the end of this product.

  • 2017 announcement: IBM retained responsibility for sales, marketing and product management while HCL took over the development of Notes/Domino.
  • 2018 announcement: HCL will completely own all aspects of the product line.
MyPOVUnder the original terms, HCL had a responsibility to deliver specific things to IBM, but was additionally free to innovate Notes/Domino on their own. An example is the work they are doing on HCL Places, which many speculate could replace the Notes client. While the pace of delivery of V10 was excellent under HCL, there were still limitations based on the alliance with IBM. As the standalone owner, it should be much simpler for HCL to focus unencumbered by IBM.
  • 2017 announcement: Organizations were customers of IBM
  • 2018 announcement: Organizations will eventually become customers of HCL, purchasing licenses, maintenance renewals and support from HCL
MyPOV: Previously HCL was mainly a services company. How will they evolve to include sales and marketing functions? How much staff from IBM will be coming over to handle those roles?


Other Questions:

  • What does this mean for the business partner community? Will those who previously worked with IBM be seamlessly transitioned to a similar HCL Partner Program? What will this program offer in terms of training, go to market assistance, pipeline generation and more?
  • Will HCL acquire any of the leading business partner products that provide additional functionality to Notes/Domino, Sametime, Connections and WebSphere Portal?
  • Previously customers engaged with IBM via events like IBM Think. Will HCL partner with IBM and hold “sub-events” tied to IBM, or will HCL start their own stand-alone events?
  • Will HCL seize this milestone as an opportunity to rebrand any of the existing products? While the old names provide heritage, they also carry with them some negative baggage. Is it better to leverage the past, or try something new?
  • What is the fate of IBM's Talent Management / Learning portfolio?
  • IBM no longer saw these products as strategic to their current focus in areas like AI (Watson), security (blockchain) and IoT.  
  • I was never comfortable with the 2017 “half-way" deal around Notes/Domino, as it seemed like an awkward arrangement that was not exactly what either side wanted. Now that HCL will be in complete control of these product lines, I think they will be able to evolve and innovate unencumbered by IBM.
  • Customers knew and understood IBM. They had relationships will account teams, often spanning much more than just collaboration software. HCL will be completely new to many of them. Will customers and partners stay, or will this be an opportunity to migrate to a competitor? 
  • My biggest concern is that the HCL portfolio is now back to containing the Notes/Domino family, Connections and WebSphere Portal. When it was just ND I was optimistic about their focus, but now will that be diluted across the three areas, or will they be able to capitalize on email + rapid application development + social/collaboration/communities + digital experiences (internal intranets and external websites) better than IBM did?
For additional information, it’s worth looking back at my thoughts on the original HCL partnership and the highlights of the Notes/Domino 10 launch.


Event Report: IBM Domino 10 Launch - Get RAD

November 8 2018 05:08:47 PM Add/Read Comments [0]

On Oct 10th IBM announced the release of IBM Notes and Domino v10. Get it, v10 on 10/10? Nice how that works in either MM/DD or DD/MM format. Anyway, as you probably know I started my technology career at IBM as a Lotus Notes administrator and developer using v2 back in 1994. So being part of the v10 launch event in Frankfurt Germany had personal meaning to me both as an analyst and as an ex-Lotus employee. You can read more about the release in this blog post from IBM GM Bob Schultz.

Notes/Domino has had a challenging journey to get to v10. Back in the early 2000s Microsoft made a huge push with Outlook/Exchange and SharePoint to migrate customers, and that took a large toll on IBM’s customer base. At the same time, IBM itself inflicted some wounds, rebranding the product several times, causing confusion on the technology side between Domino and WebSphere, and being unclear on commitment and vision between Domino and other platforms like IBM Connections. 

Fast-forward to 2018, and things are more positive around Notes/Domino than they have been in many years. Around the end of 2017 IBM and HCL announced a partnership where the two organizations will share various responsibilities for the future development, marketing and sales of Notes/Domino and its associated products. The momentum for v10 began at IBM Think in earlier 2018, and the partnership seems to be working quite well, as in less than a year HCL has delivered v10 with several features that appeal to end-users, application developers, and system administrators. Similarly, IBM and HCL have continued to engage with customers, business partners and prospects in several ways including:

  • A new marketing website named Destination Domino
  • Online “jams” where people could engage with IBM and HCL executives, developers and product managers
  • A live tour of HCL’s offices for 100 of the top Notes/Domino customers and partners
  • A new online community for feature requests
  • A lot of social media branded originally under #Domino2025 and now the #DominoForever hashtag


With V10, IBM is refocusing on what made Lotus Notes a valuable business tool in the first place, rapid application development (RAD). While the market has evolved the term RAD to the more trendy "low-code platforms” the value proposition remains the same today as it was decades ago; enabling organizations to develop, test and deploy applications quickly with minimal involvement from IT services. With V10 IBM has announced that Notes applications will be able to run on mobile devices such as iPads, and that web developers will be able to use modern programming frameworks like node.js.

In the video below I provide an overview of several of the new features, discuss the target audiences, as share my thoughts around the challenges and opportunities IBM has with Domino v10.

I'd like end this blog post by calling attention to one of the more interesting customer stories I've ever heard. While at the launch event I met with members of the Polish Medical Air Rescue organization. This group uses helicopters to transport people in dire medical conditions. They use a Domino application in their command centre to manage the process, so as they said: "Domino is used here to help us save lives." They are excited about v10 because they believe the new application development features will allow them to speed up their process by 30 seconds, which translates to a helicopter being 3km closer to the patient. That's amazing. I look forward to hearing an update from them next year.


Event Report: Igloo Software ICE 2018

September 14 2018 02:00:00 PM Add/Read Comments [0]

This week in San Antonio Texas, Digital Workplace vendor Igloo Software held their annual user conference Igloo Customer Experience (ICE, Igloo... get it!) In addition to attending, I had the honour of keynoting the second day. I highlighted some of the challenges employees are struggling with today, and how bringing together content, colleagues and conversations can help employees not only get work done but be creative and feel like they have a voice in the company. My talk was designed to complement the conference theme of providing customers with a Digital Workplace, the new term being used for intranets or communities.

Here is a short video review of the news, with more details below.

There were four main items announced at ICE:

1. Igloo Marketplace , a repository of templates and integrations that expand the capabilities of Igloo.

MyPOV: This is a significant step in evolving from a product to a platform. To compete against vendors like Microsoft and Google, you need to have a vibrant business partner ecosystem and you need to have integrations with the popular 3rd enterprise business applications. In order to create a seamless experience for employees, they need to be able to access their files, HR applications, CRM records and web-conferencing tools and more... all without switching between multiple applications. A marketplace or catalogue provides a central place for people to add the tools and integrations they need to get their jobs done. 

2. "Unified Search: Through a partnership with Lucidworks, Igloo will be incorporating the latest in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing technology to improve search speed and relevancy."

MyPOV: While this is not available yet, it is a move well aligned with the trend of using AI to help people find, filter and focus on the things they need, ideally with personalized and context-aware results. It's not just about finding the right content, it's about finding the right content at the right time in the right location.  This partnership does not seem to be inclusive, leaving the door open for Igloo to leverage with technologies for things like image search or video indexing.

3. "Worldwide Data Residency: Igloo’s growing base of multinational enterprise customers will soon be able to use Azure for local data residency options in US, Canada and Europe"

MyPOV: This is a good indicator of the growth of Igloo's customer base. Clearly they are seeing demand outside of North America, and I look forward to hearing customer reference stories that leverage these new data centre options, as well as potential announcements around additional locations.

4. "General availability of the Networked Enterprise Edition provides complex and dispersed organizations with a hub and spoke architecture for connecting business units, vendors, suppliers, partners, and customers"

MyPOV: This appears to be a very interesting feature, enabling organizations to deploy a central "hub" of information that everyone can access, then multiple "spokes" that can be tailored to specific needs. I'd like to hear more about the benefits and challenges of administration and security of this architecture. Hopefully, Igloo will share case-studies and metrics around how their large customers are using this new feature.


Overall Impressions

No matter what you call it; Intranet, Employee Community, or Digital Workplace, the need to have a place where employees can create, share and discover knowledge is a critical component of empowering collaboration.

Several of the attendees I spoke to over the two days are currently using Jive Software or Microsoft SharePoint and are looking for alternatives. The high level of interest in Igloo is a good sign for the company, and they should continue to capitalize on the uncertainty in some of their competition's roadmaps and vision.

Igloo has always been very strong on design, not just in looks and branding, but in user experience around creating, finding and sharing knowledge.

They are now at the stage where they need to focus on enterprise needs such as scalability, security, compliance and administration.

The announcements at ICE this week are moves in the right direction, and validate why Igloo Software is one of the vendors on the Constellation ShortList™ for Corporate Intranet Platforms.


Event Report: Slack Frontiers 2018

September 8 2018 11:00:00 AM Add/Read Comments [0]

Sep 5 and 6 Slack held their user conference Frontiers in San Francisco. The flow of the keynote was very well done, with Slack executives and customers (including 21st Century Fox, WeWork and others) working together to tell a consistent story around how Slack is evolving from just group messaging (a place for people to chat) to a collaboration hub (a place that integrates together multiple applications to enable people to do work). This theme of stream or newsfeed based tools becoming a place to "get work done" fits in well with the concept of Purposeful Collaboration that I've been writing about since 2013.

Logistically Frontiers was very well done, with a combination of entertainment, education and philanthropy. They recapped product highlights of 2018 including

  • Improved search (speed as well as interface)
  • Application actions (enable posts in the stream to be interactive, not just information)
  • Shared channels (allow two companies to collaborate securely via Slack)
  • Acquisition of (a workflow/automation product that enables people to define trigger events and actions)
  • Atlassian partnership (the shutdown of HipChat and Stride and ideally migration to Slack)

and discussed several future features (ranging from Q42018 to "sometime in 2019")

  • Enterprise Key Management (EKM) which will allow administrators to encrypt channels
  • Improvements in administration features like device-level security, compliance and governance
  • Making the editor more usable for non-technical people - example WYSIWYG rich text editing
  • Improved initial experience for new Slack users, showing fewer features when they first start
  • A new web and desktop client that is significantly faster (ex: 1s load time vs 6s), uses less memory, and even supports offline usage
  • Network channels - the next phase of Shared Channels, enabling multiple companies instead of just two

but unfortunately, there was not a lot of "new and available now" type news.  I would have liked to have heard:

  • Updated statistics about growth. They cited the same 8M daily active users and 3M paid users numbers that they announced in May.
  • News around partners and the Slack Fund
  • Advancements in how they are using AI


Here is my quick video recap of Slack Frontiers 2018



Slack certainly deserves credit for reinvigorating the enterprise collaboration market. Their rise to tech-stardom caused the traditional tech giants Microsoft, Google, Cisco and IBM to react and develop their own similar channel-based collaboration tools. But now with the market being so competitive, what comes next for Slack? I would have liked to have seen more emphasis on Slack Enterprise Grid, their platform for use at large companies.

As I pointed out on Twitter, I believe their future will involve more native functionality that enables them to evolve beyond just messaging to becoming more of a platform for executing core business workflows.


The way most people work today, struggling with information overload as they constantly switch between multiple applications is not the optimal way to work. Slack as well as several other vendors know this, and are working on ways to improve the employee experience. I've written about this future of work in what I refer to as Digital Canvases, and I look forward to seeing Slack continue to try and help employees work better together.


Event Report: BoxWorks 2018 the road to Cloud Content Management

August 31 2018 11:00:00 AM Add/Read Comments [1]

This week Box held their annual conference BoxWorks, with the 2018 theme being "The blueprint for the future of work".

In the two videos below I provide my thoughts on the key themes and product announcements.

Part 1: Three Key Themes in Box's evolution to Cloud Content Management

  • Evolution from Cloud File Storage to Cloud Content Management
  • Digital Workplace - A seamless Employee Experience for content and collaboration
  • Content Intelligence - Automating tasks and extracting insights

Part 2: News and Overall Thoughts


My Analysis

  • Box continues to hold their own and grow in a market could have easily been commoditized by Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive
  • They continue to improve the user experience, solving common ECM issues like finding content
  • Until now, Box was more of a service than a destination. With Feed, Activity Stream, Recommended Apps, Automation and other features, the amount of time people spend in Box itself will increase.
  • Customers would like better clarity and a more specific roadmap around ”announced features” versus shipping.
  • Business Partners are unsure of which features will remain 3rd party add-ons and what areas Box will add with native functionality