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Getting Lotus technologies to tomorrow's developers - Part 2

After my post from the other day - Getting Lotus technologies to tomorrow's developers - Marie Scott shared information on the following IBM program: IBM Academic Initiative - part of the IBM University Relations program:

From the Become a member section:

Join the IBM Academic Initiative and get access to our valuable resources, at no-charge.

Great - where do I sign up?! ;-)

Who can join? Faculty members and researcher professionals at accredited institutions of learning and qualifying members of standards organizations, all over the globe. Membership is granted on an individual basis. There is no limit on the number of members from an institution that can join.

I have contacted one of the people in charge of the IBM Academic Initiative and will hopefully have some more information to share on this program soon. Until then, check out the IBM Academic Initiative home page - especially if you work in the education field!

However, in the comments section of my post from the other day, Jan posts:

We are a student organisation (11 national places) and we use notes internaly: 300 ID User, alumni as webuser, notes used as webCMS, email and to organise our projects. We do avything unpaid and during our freetime.

We have two big problems with notes/domino right now: we once started with notes because we got a sponsoring from IBM. This is not anymore happening, you need to have some contacts in the right place, which we don't have anymore. This means two things: first we need to pay for updates, which is a big blow for our financial situation and second, we don't get to use new technology like sametime, conection and so on. Which basicly means that IBM misses the oppertunity to show their producs to 150 new students, which will become engineers and manager in a not so distant future.

The bigger problem is, that we don't get any students anymore, which want to play around with a notes/domino system. Most of them want to play with "cool new" MS thingies or "cool PHP" and noone wants to learn the unsexy beast, which is notes/domino. This is becoming a big problem for us, as basicly our system is going into "unsupported" mode during these days as the main persons responsible for the system finished their studies.

I think this is a problem with marketing: Notes is a software, which is "uncool" and so noone wants to have something to with it if he can't help it. Also, as it is not aimed at "normal" users, only at big companies, almost no student has heard of it or used it. And noone has thought about programming for it or played around as an admin.

The even bigger problem is, that noone sees it as a future career path. PHP, Open source, MS, that's the way to go, but N/D?

I've brought this comment out in it's own post, because I think it's something that should be discussed!

Now, I don't know Jan nor do I know the whole situation, but I think that we can all at some level empathize with that feeling of a great technology that we love being looked over for something that we absolutely know to be inferior, all the while being relatively helpless to do anything about it.

To address Jan's issues specifically:

  1. I don't know if Jan was enrolled in this program or another one and something changed... If you were not enrolled, it sounds as though this program may meet the needs of your school. If you were enrolled in this program... what happened?!

  2. This issue goes to the heart of my post from the other day - how do we drive interest in a product that is being marketed and directed to CIOs and has no real focus toward the typical day-to-day customer usage experience.

    Years ago - decisions like this were top-down, no questions asked. Today, that's shifting. Employers are looking to keep employees happy, but more importantly keep them productive. If that's the case, do you go with a product portfolio that no one's ever heard of?!

Today I was lucky enough to participate in on a phone call with Bob Picciano, as well as a few other Lotus Online Community bloggers. During the call, he described a scenario he recently experienced where someone using the Lotus Notes Client was able to go from their email into LinkedIn via a Live Text Widget. In a very real world scenario, this person was able to get the information that they needed within seconds using Lotus technologies! Before I could unmute, Nathan said what we were all thinking:

That needs to be in a viral video on YouTube!

The good news? IBM gets it! They're engaging the community - business partner, customer, and global alike - like never before. There are new and exciting products and offerings, as well as better emphasis on adding requested (and often demanded) features into existing products. The technology is sexier, is more capable, and is focused on improving the real world day-to-day customer user experience.

But who knows about all of that hard work and innovation? How do we effectively showcase the Lotus product portfolio in a way that gets people as excited about XPages in the Lotus Notes Client as the most die-hard yellowbleeder? And while we put the pressure on IBM to create better product, better marketing material, and push the message... is there anything that we can do?

Thoughts and comments appreciated...

About the author: Chris Toohey

Thought Leadership, Web & Mobile Application Development, Solutions Integration, Technical Writing & Mentoring

A published developer and webmaster of, Chris Toohey specializes in platform application development, solutions integration, and evangelism of platform capabilities and best practices.

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