SharePoint isn't the solution either. (If this blog were about using SharePoint, I could have lead with the title "Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone hates SharePoint?") Two years ago, at KMWORLD, it seemed that SharePoint could do no wrong; in fact, the answer to every ill, it seemed, was SharePoint. Now that organizations have had some time to work with SharePoint, we see the same issues and hear many of the same complaints about SharePoint that we have heard about Notes. And, of course, we have the cloud vendors telling us that they can fix the problems of SharePoint and Notes. Yeah, right.
The problem is many organizations are lazy, often too lazy to think seriously about the tools their people use and how they use them. These organizations expect the tools to do the thinking. Sorry. I've got news. When we get to the root of the problem, in most cases, it's a problem of not thinking enough about the problem and the key elements required to solve it. Replacing a technology isn't always the best solution. In fact, as you will see below, replacing the technology without. addressing the areas of knowledge and methodology first will often make the situation worse.
Today, on several occasions, I met with folks that told me of their dislike for Notes. I asked what their stated problems were and what they were doing about it. Some had already migrated away, some were in process and some were still praying for the day. I then asked the people in the first two groups how the migration to SharePoint was working out and whether it had solved the problems -- specifically the things they hated most about Notes. I bet you can guess the responses.... I bet they will soon be looking for a cloud solution to replace SharePoint.
I took a napkin and wrote out my formula for value creation: V=KMT and then proceeded to explain the value equation and why ripping and replacing technology alone will likely not ensure a positive outcome. They all agreed.
There's obviously much more to this story and, time permitting, I will try to share it when I get back to California. Meanwhile., I will leave you with this thought.
Value created (V) is the result of Knowledge (K) x Methodology (M) x Technology (T). They are all multipliers - that is, any one can improve or worsen the outcome. You can rip and replace the tool but if your methodology of working with those tools is poor, the result will still not be pretty.
Case in point: One person, when I asked what they disliked about Notes said: "We have so many databases, we can't find anything and we don't know where to look. And, if I want to set up a database, I have to get the Notes admin involved" That's not a Notes problem; it's also not an IT issue alone. It's a knowledge and information management issue. There are many people with expertise that can solve those problems without replacing any hardware or software; many even read this blog.
I then turned to a SharePoint user at the table and asked "How are things working for you in SharePoint?" to which they responded, "We have so many databases; we can't find anything anywhere and, users keep creating more and more SharePoint sites. It's a mess." Sound familiar? Another SharePoint user said that their site had the opposite problem - their admin had locked down SharePoint to the point that no one could create a new site. You can't win.
At least not without an understanding of the elements of the value equation.
My point here is not to say that Notes is better or SharePoint is better or that the cloud is better. These are all just tools.
The key is understanding the problems you want to solve and then learning to use the tools available to create greater value. I'll have more to say on that soon. At least now, I have a working example to include in my KMWORLD presentation on Future Formulas for Enterprise KM Success later this week.
Update: One of the people I spoke with said that they would like to learn more about how their organization can maximize their investment in Lotus Software. We will talk soon. Made my day.