A new Nifty Fifty ?

Way back when, around the Notes v3 time ("gather round children, and listen to your grandad telling you another bedtime story"..), there were a number of free templates given out - called the "Nifty Fifty".  In fact, Ed Brill talks about them here.  Go off and read this - we'll wait, dont worry.





What is the background to this discussion ?



Right. So far so good. Now, of course with MS Sharepoint being shoved around organisations (Usually with the "Meet the richest man in the world in Seattle" CIO sales pitch), is there a requirement for a New Nifty Fifty ?



Well. There probably wont be fifty, lets face it. What were they for ? As Rocky points out here, John Head points out here, greyhawke points out here,  Ray Ozzie points out here, Mac Guildera points out here,  they showed new customers - very quickly - that notes isnt just a mail system. Lets face it, if you just want a mail system, there are cheaper and possibly prettier alternatives out there. Notes isnt just a mail system - its an application infrastructure.



What is the Nifty Fifty ?





The original nifty fifty was a "starter" set of applications that someone could take a look at and amend if necessary.



(A point of interest for anyone with a non-notes background at this stage. Notes application designs - especially those delivered out of the box - are generally "open" so that you can tinker with them. Add new features. Brand them to your corporate. Make them fit your environment)



Now Sharepoint comes with a number of applications, and very pretty applications they are too. However, how practical is it for an SMB customer with Sharepoint to amend this application? I dont think very much.





Many people purchase Notes, and never actually use it for anything other than mail. Its a Huge Shame. Seriously. If, in the same box, you also got a whole slew of applications in there, then it would immediately start to become invaluable. Remember - the Applications is not the bit that Microsoft can "migrate" to Exchange/Sharepoint. Remember - their application infrastructure just doesnt have the depth that a Notes application can.



So. Yes. I believe a number of pre-built applications should come out of the box, and the templates be available for all new domino installations. In fact, I believe a number of them should be pre-built in a "sample" directory ready for demo purposes. We all know that there's a fair bit of training to be done before you start building databases out of templates for real, and on day one - when the domino server is first built - you want to see the good stuff. Right now.





Okay. So now we've done the WHY and the WHAT, lets look at the WHO.





Now there's been a lot of talk of a community offering. This has some value, in that its not beholden to the internal politics of IBM. I've worked closely with IBM for over 10 years now, and even I - a seasoned veteran of a world that makes Dilberts look sane - dont understand how they actually work.



But.





The applications have to be bundled on the CD-ROM. How many new customers are aware of the sterling efforts of the OpenNTF community ? Very few. How many new customers look up the IBM BP catalog ? (Well, as a BP, I can heartily testify - NO customers look that up). How many customers actually find the excellent resources (and here) on Alan Lepofski's blog ? Not all.



Secondly, we have the strange "Domino Mail" license. Which is restricted to run only templates that are signed by "Lotus Template Development". So someone in Westford has to sign these templates.



And of course, as it'll be a standard part of Lotus Notes, they have to be "Blue-Rinsed" - that is - as Steve Castledine pointed out - runnable in many different languages, with the IBM Look+Feel. (I feel its a fantastic phrase, and Steve should copywrite it soon!)





So. No. A community effort is a fantastic idea, but just wont work.



It has to be an IBM development. Sorry folks, but I just dont see how "New Customer" gets beyond this.





Will this have an effect on existing Business Partner Products ?



Yes, but at the same time - No. What on earth do I mean about this ?





Well. Far far more customers will be used to and demanding applications on their new Domino servers - all those people who were unaware that Domino could do this.  Those people might just stick on the new bundled applications. Those people will not buy from BP's.



However - as a BP myself - I feel that a greater number of these new customers - customers who NEVER purchased applications for their domino infrastructure - will in fact go looking for more. And not just other applications - bigger versions of the applications that are shipped.





The marketplace itself will grow, and this will help BP's.



Now if your a BP, and have cobbled together a weeks worth of functionality - and it still looks like a v3 app - well, I'm sorry, but your going to have to invest in your product, and bring it up to date.





And the HOW.





Look at how cool sametime has become in v7.5. Look how cool the new Mac 7.0.2 client is. Look how cool Quickplace v7 is going to be (check Robs blog for the skinny and register for the Collaboration University!).



Whatever gets bundled has to be GOOD. A Good notes client, and a good web client. So that will raise the bar in terms of Notes applications out there, and will raise the bar of customer expectations too. This will hurt a lot of BP's - ourselves included. But since we're committed to investing in our product - we have to do this.





What applications need to be bundled ? Well, I feel that taking the Sharepoint set of bundled applications as a starting point would be an excellent idea. An idea worthy of at least a pair of yellow boxing gloves. And how many times at sites have you had to write:


  • Expense tracking

  • Purchase Orders

  • Decision support - workflow with signatures






Will it happen ? Well, I feel that if we put enough pressure and keep extolling the positve virtues of this track to our contacts within IBM, then it might. I dont know - IBM havent been foolish enough to put me on the payroll....





I know there's a bunch of folks in IBM right now who will probably be shouting at the screen "BUT WHO PAYS FOR THIS?".



Chaps. This is what SHOULD have been going on for the last 10 years with the nifty fifty. This makes your customers far far happier, and far far stickier. Just do it, okay ?



What do you think should happen ?