Friday, January 29, 2010

Lotus Knows the Secret Ingredients to Great Pancakes

It was another great Lotusphere, and though many have already given excellent overviews of what was presented, I wanted to throw my 2 cents into the pot as well.

I had my five minutes of fame on Business Development Day during a short video that had a series of clips about things people don't know about us.  Alistair Rennie shared his proficiency with a chain saw (Alistair, when your done using that on MS, I have several trees in my orchard that need attention).  I shared my secret ingredients for Banana Chocolate-chip Pancakes, and was stopped several times on Sunday with comments like, "Hey, you're the Pancake Guy!"   Took me back to my younger days flipping pancakes at my Dad's diner.

Here are several things that stood out to me during the conference, some of which I'll dive into further in later posts.
  • Bob and Alistair.  First, a big thank you to Bob, and congratulations to Alistair.  I appreciate the edge Bob brought to Lotus, his willingness to directly take on MS, and his ability to bust through old ways of doing things that had become impediments to moving Lotus forward. AKA, "We can't do direct Lotus advertising, IBM doesn't do that."  Alistair has a long history of doing great things in Lotus--under his leadership, we've seen some major Cool brought back to the portfolio. I'm looking forward to his wit and sarcasm directed at the competition.
  • LotusLive.  It had a lot of attention at the conference.  That team has come an amazing distance in a very short time, and they have some great enhancements around the corner.  I'm convinced Lotus' "hybrid" approach to cloud computing will win in the market.  Not all users should be in the cloud, and even for those that are, not all functions should be accessed solely through a web browser.
  • Lotus Knows.  I have been so excited with the long overdue introduction of Lotus-centric adds that actually mention Lotus products by name!  That said, I've been somewhat disappointed that the content of the ads has not included visuals and video of the products in use.  A negative brand image is still rampant, and that largely has come from the outdated user interface of 5.x - 7x Notes.  Combating this image problem will require eliminating those old mental images.  But good news is, data from early test markets was overwhelming positive.  Now, will IBM act with the urgency needed to flood the market with this campaign?
  • Foundations.  Wow, amazing partner solutions being built on this platform for small businesses.  As if Foundations wasn't amazing enough with its instant collaborative infrastructure in a box, now you can get a complete VOIP platform with add-ons from ShoreTel, and impressive electronic document capabilities from Xerox.  Of all Lotus' efforts, this has the potential to move the market and impact perceptions.  I hope this is the year that Lotus gets aggressive with this solution.
  • Vulcan.  My first reaction was, wow, this is a rich client for Lotus Connections.  It did give me thoughts of Google Wave, but unlike Wave, the concept is far more practical.  I have to confess, I'm not much of a Facebook user, but my wife is, and I can see the value of connecting to others in this medium.  I can see the focal point of the "inbox" shifting to social networking as more and more users are connected this way at home.  But more than that, the interweaving of social networking, traditional mail, analytics, real-time communications and seamless premise and cloud elements really is exciting.  
  • Collaboration Agenda.  I see a lot of value in this approach for many customers.  It delivers targeted business value leveraging the full breadth of capabilities in the Lotus portfolio.  Now my concern.  This is a slow process, and by its very nature, can only touch a limited customer set.  It limits the reach of an already constrained sales force (compared to the competition), and worse, it puts the sexiness of the technology in the background when the biggest problem with the brand is its limited exposure and outdated images of old Lotus software.  I continue to be amazed at the number of customers I see wasting money on migrating away from Lotus during the worst econonmy in any of our lifetimes.  It shows that market acceptance of collaborative technologies is not driven by business economics.  Irrational as that sounds, its born out time and time again.
Well, there is my 2 cents.  I'll rub 'em together with a few more reflections on the conference, and maybe have a nickel when all is said and done.  Now, for the pancake recipe!

1 banana
chocolate chips
2 cups Aunt Jemima Instant Pancake mix
1 1/2 cup water

Mash banana in mixing bowl until liquified.  Add instant pancake mix and water, and stir.  Warm your non-stick skillet over low heat.  Put five tablespoons of mixture on skillet, and gently spread out in a circle.  Drop chocolate chips in circular pattern around pancake and dot in center.  Gently press chips into batter, and spread batter over top of the chips.  Wait until batter bubbles, and flip pancake.  Makes 8 - 10 pancakes.


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