A lot has been written about IBM Verse, positive and negative. Some articles and posts have applauded or derided technical details. Others have focused on social aspects and whether IBM Verse is properly engineered for different sizes and styles of organizations. Still more have focused on the competitive aspects, and whether IBM is capable of going up against Google's Gmail/Google Apps and Microsoft's Office 365.
But the questions I have are perhaps higher level.
#1) Do those of us in the IBM Partner community believe in Verse and want it to succeed?
Mind you, I don't think this is a given, but am genuinely curious. Many of us have been deeply entrenched with IBM for a long time, and many of us have also been burned by IBM. So, aside from the horse race questions and the questions of what others will think, what do we think and want? Whether you are a naysayer or supporter for other reasons, would you want to support, sell and work with Verse if it were a success, regardless of whether you think that is likely? If not, the other two questions doesn't matter much. IBM won't succeed without its community behind it.
#2) If the answer to #1 is Yes, what could we do to help make it happen?
Again, this is not an easy question. The raw truth is that IBM sucks at marketing and sucks at doing the things that make a new product easy to migrate to. It is inevitable that they will make missteps and cringeworthy ads and offer terrible tools to integrate with other products or allow people to migrate contacts in and out, or any of the standard things that one might hope for. So, if we do support it, and we do want it to succeed (again, an open question), what could we do knowing that IBM will drop the ball and do many things wrong? How hard would it be for us to write a better import for contacts? How much would it help if we picked up the ball with integration? I know we shouldn't have to do those things, but realistically, we might have to if there is to be a chance of this succeeding. The answer to this question could also be that nothing we could do would be enough. In that case, question #3 is moot.
#3) If between IBM and the partner community, we somehow pulled out a success, would IBM be able and willing to support it?
We can do a lot, but there's only so much we can do. We can build the tools that IBM should have, make the integrations we would hope IBM would have, craft the message that IBM can't seem to craft. But when all is said and done, Verse will only work if IBM actually supports it and its customers. If IBM wants to go straight from introduction phase to cash cow phase without ever going through the customer building and retention phase, the product is dead on arrival, and I fear that could be the case. I hope not, but there is little point in questions #1 and #2 if #3 is No.
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