Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How to roast an IBM executive (with tomato sauce)

It's always fun when IBM send over a suit from the USA to host a meeting of local Business Partners and to offer him up at a ritual sacrifice of tomato pelting and slow roasting. The event was called 'Business Partner & Lotus Roundtable with Mike Garbett' and Mike (Director of WorldWide Sales for Lotus Collaboration) took most of the input on board with good grace. Unfortunately I had to leave before the red wine was exhausted but I'm sure my fellow BPs finished off my share of the Merlot.

The amazing thing about these events is that the local Partners tell the same thing to EVERY visiting executive from the USA and yet our comments are always met with an open-mouthed 'gosh... no-one ever told me that' response by the newest blue-suited arrival. I sometimes think that IBM tells its execs that Australia is like a little town somewhere in Texas so as long as you talk slowly and smile a lot you'll get on just fine. The reality is that with a population of over 22 million we would fit in as the next largest state of the USA after Texas with about 3 million more people than the state of New York.

More critical than our size if the fact that we have a different corporate infrastructure than the USA. Most of our larger employers have their HQ overseas and therefore we have a limited ability to influence strategic purchasing decisions. We also see the lions share of Australian licencing revenue being creamed off by overseas Business Partners who have cozied up to the Head Office buyers in Main Street USA, but that's life.

However what IBM could do is to make their own products more available to the Australian market. I'll quote from my own blog post about the reality of SMB in Australia with comparable USA figures in square brackets:

* Large firms: ......200+ staff .......5,876 .... (0.3%) .... [0.28%]
* Mediumsized firms: 20-199 staff ....78,304 .... (3.9%) .... [0.79%]
* Small firms: ......5-19 staff .....228,313 ... (11.3%) .... [4.75%]
* Micro-enterprises: 0-4 staff ....1,699,277 ... (84.5%) ... [94.18%]

So if most of the opportunity in Australia is in the sub-200 user space then why is there a lower limit of 200 users for Lotus Live? IBM is just taking its own products off the radar for all but 6,000 businesses in Australia. Mike got that message loud and clear yesterday and I'm repeating it here for the IBM execs that haven't yet been roasted at an Australian Business Partner Barbeque.

I saw Mike taking copious notes at the meeting but only time will tell whether the next exec to visit Australia has bothered to read those notes.


Phil Salm said...

Strange... there is not a 200 user minimum requirement for LotusLive Meetings, Events, Connections, Engage or iNotes in the US. The only LotusLive offering to have a minimum is LotusLive Notes.

Richard Moy said...


It is the same problem we have here the US. Most of the businesses in the US are under 25 employees.

Henning Heinz said...

As a Business Partner I would say that the lower the barrier is to directly buy from a vendor the more I would be worried as a Business Partner. For example if I look at the Google offering. They indeed do offer a provision but if the yearly fee is 50$ the money left for the Partner is just enough for a ball of ice-cream (once a year, not every day).

Graham Dodge said...

Lotus Notes is the main difference between the IBM and Google offerings. We're dealing with smaller customers that might want to take their infrastructure into the cloud but don't want to leave Notes behind - and I fully agree with their reasoning. If they need to keep running their existing local Notes server to give themselves applications then what's the point in offloading their mail infrastructure?