„HCL saw the diamonds in the rough“

Part 1: Interview with Barry Rosen, HCL Senior Regional Director – Products and Platforms

What were the reasons for HCL taking over large parts of the IBM collaboration portfolio?
HCL’s business model is to find software in the market that has value and a very large customer base but maybe hasn’t been invested in the most recent years. That’s what they found in the portfolio of Domino, Notes and Sametime. I think HCL recognized the value of the products, the strength of the customer base and saw the diamonds in the rough. With a little bit of polish, they can be some real gems.

Can you go through the process?
The initial deal was an IP partnership. We saw the idea of the products. We were convinced that we can do development for and with the customers. And, we can bring the results to the market very quick. We put out version 10 and got a little bit of a track record with that. We saw the uptick in the customer base and the positive results. After that HCL and IBM came to a great agreement and created a win-win-win situation.

What do you mean?
It’s a win for IBM because they can fully focus on their strategy. It’s a win for HCL, because we can take these awesome products and continue the good work of tightening the integration. And most importantly it’s a win for the customers. Because they get the benefit of us reinvigorating the products. And with that they can continue to work with them and protect their investments of the past.

IBM handles sales and technical pre-sales by its own teams, what is HCL planning in these departments?
Things are different in each country. So, I cannot legally comment on the specifics in Germany. From an overall perspective it’s a known fact that we will be taking sales, marketing and offering management people from IBM. But it may not be everybody in every country due to local labor laws.

HCL were giving some announcements about simplifying licensing models. How can we imagine that?
Think about how complex licensing is done at IBM. You almost have to be an attorney to read and understand the licensing models. All the people that were doing licensing at IBM will now be at HCL so we know the IBM licensing inside and out. The entire process is going to be new and reimagined. We are literally building everything from the ground up, from how you purchase the software, the terms that you purchase them under, where you download the software from et cetera.

The process hasn’t been finished?
No, but from a philosophical perspective, we know the pain points that customers, business partners and product sellers have. We are trying to eliminate all of those from the ground up in a way that we organize the teams and build our systems with the eye of simplicity.

What will HCL do to stop the migration away to other platforms?
I think we’re doing a fairly good job with the launch of V10 and the preparations for V11 if you look at the numbers. In Q4 of 2018 we had 180 customers coming back, that have lapsed before. IBM Software Subscription and Support renewals showed on the side they were up 9%. From that perspective, we are reaching that target spot of close to 99% renewal. We’re getting in the mid-90s which is almost unheard of. We were in the low 80s before we started this process with HCL and we are seeing a real turnaround in the numbers internally.

What do you want to do to attract new customers and developers?
I think that sits in with our local infusion developer’s strategy. By positioning ourselves as that platform where you can create solutions and solve business problems quickly, customers can take Domino and run the entire life cycle on our rapid application development platform.

For me personally one really important part is education. We have to promote our software at the university level. I would like to see a program where we take all the additions to universities and get them to start using this product. This is the place where you get the next leaders and the next decision makers that are coming into office.

Interesting idea. Can you talk more about that?
Most students come out of school and all they’ve ever used is Google and Microsoft. When they get into the enterprise, what do you expect them to use there? They will use the known products because they have no exposure to HCL products. They just don’t know them and therefore cannot make the decision to use them. But ok, that’s a very long-term strategy which needs to be seeded properly and takes time to grow.

How does HCL want to structure topics like training, enablement and certification?
From a training perspective you won’t see HCL produce any training in-house. We will work with business partners and third parties to do that. We need to do a better job for training materials and providing samples or code. Tech sales is no longer going to exist with HCL. The people going to be like technical advisers and sit under the development not in the sales organization. So, they’ll be closer to the developers doing proofs of concept, demos and building all of those assets around.

In part two we will talk about the ongoing developments of Domino V11.


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