Posted by: Benoit Dubuc | 2010/09/05

Is IBM GTS a competitor to Lotus Business Partners?

Yes, again,  I am a bit late on this one, but I would like to share my thoughts and not start a never ending discussion.  As long as IBM will have a professional services department, this discussion will live on.  We all know that a good part of IBM’s revenues is now professional services and that Lotus Notes is generating more than its share of revenues in that portion of IBM’s overall income.

I guess that considering IBM GTS as a competitor depends on your location on our little planet.  In my area, when I realized a major client was going to move applications from Lotus Domino to the .Net world, I contacted IBM to see if I could get some help trying to convince the client that Domino was actually the ideal platform for some specific application types, especially since about 90% of the Domino/Notes applications were excellent candidates for Notes (workflows, document libraries, …).

I guess that in my area, Notes is now such a small market that there is a very small team available to help BPs in situations like these.  I have been told by the client’s Lotus rep that IBM already tried convincing them to stick with Lotus but there was one of the client’s development team leaders that was totally against Lotus and a big part of it came from the fact that the guy has been working for Microsoft before and he was able to convince upper management on the fact that .Net is better than Notes and that Notes is now “legacy”.  So no more help from the rep, and being a small BP, I didn’t feel it was my role to convince the client, but I did send an email to a manager at the top of the food chain, but that was it, I didn’t want and I don’t think I could have done more.

I eventually got in contact with a few people at IBM, sales reps and software specialists, but also one of the top IBM managers in Canada.  I met that person and explained the situation and the fact that so far, IBM wasn’t much help.  He told me that I needed to do the ground work and if required, IBM would jump in.  Not quite the answer I was looking for…  But in the process, and throughout all the meetings I had with IBM people, I learned that IBM was doing consulting and professional services business with major corporations in our area.  Since we are a small Lotus market, the number of BPs is quite small too, so I started looking for other BPs in the area and found very few besides VSMBs (very small businesses) like myself.  Most major BPs were IBM hardware resellers that probably get professional services contract because of that.  And I think this is a great way to get into a company: sell them the hardware and then tell them you can also offer development services on top of that.  But for the rest of us VSMBs, it’s pretty hard to get the little Lotus business that is available.

So a short answer is yes, you should consider IBM GTS as a competitor when you are looking for acquiring market shares in the Lotus professional services business.  They, as well as your company, exist to make profit and these days, professional services is where the money is in IT.  I always felt the BP program was a bit weird since IBM is also playing in the same field as their BPs.  I know they probably don’t play in small playgrounds, but that leaves us with bits and pieces left.  As I mentioned, not sure if this applies to all the regions of the world, but that is how I see things in my part of the planet.

I became a BP mainly because of marketing purposes: I could use the BP logo, which is a big plus for customers.  I was never able to find my way in all the BP documentation and web site (and I tried!) so I am not sure if being anything other than a premium BP is worth it.  But if I become a VSMB again, I will apply to the BP program for sure, just so I can say I’m an IBM partner…  that will have to compete with IBM to grab contracts!

That’s my 2 Canadian cents from Montreal, Qc


Responses

  1. If not too late I am happy to help you with the client. We do not conflict with IGS much but on non-Lotus items we have been and that has been good and bad. Good for both of us naturally but it can have some drawbacks.
    As to you doing the legwork before IBM gets involved, my guess is the client is too small or unknown for them to care about, but they have targets to hit, find the right rep who gets targets on the product or renewal your client has?

    • It is too late for that client, and no it’s not a small one (25 000 users across Canada). I think it really had to do with limited IBM resources in Montreal and the Microsoft guy that did a really good job at convincing upper management that Notes is not good at application development.

  2. Benoit . This situation where a MS guy takes over Domino shop and then goes to convince the upper managers to go MS has a big lie on his resume ” he never knew Domino”. Then when he has his foot in the door he starts taking about how this can´t be done and why this does not work and this is much better in dot.net. he bring to them cost of moving to dot.net and sales them the idea. he will fail and he will try to cover it up to keep his job. Sad very sad.

    • I think the numbers will speak for themselves: converting the Notes application to .Net is going to be close to a million $$$ once it’s all done. The new .Net application has some new functionality but will lack some others present in the Notes version. I think the company could have used that money more wisely… As you said, very sad!

  3. Benoit,

    I have found in the past to not rely on IBM regardless of the size of the deal. IBM became my competitor in three of the deals we almost lost to Microsoft because of that. I find it better to spend your resources on building relationships with other business partner who may or may not be in your area but can give you advice or help you strengthen your offering to the client.


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