It’s not often in one’s career that you get tapped to take over marketing for a legendary portfolio of products. A portfolio with a history so astounding that even just one of its products, HCL Domino, single handedly invented some of the most essential IT technologies still used today. You see, HCL Domino was a NoSQL database before NoSQL was ubiquitous, it was a Rapid Application Development (RAD) platform before RAD was even a thing, and it was and still is adored and used by millions of people globally.
True to anything built to last, HCL Domino certainly experienced its fair share of ups-and-downs over the years, but it’s still as essential as ever even after just celebrating its 30th launch anniversary earlier this month.
Domino’s Origin Story
1989 was an important year. It was a time of political upheaval, the Brandenburg Gate was finally opened paving the way for German reunification, it was a time for the arts, Tim Burton’s Batman premiered and George Michael’s Faith won Album of the Year at the Grammy’s, and it was a time for world-changing technology to take center stage.
On November 27th, 1989, Lotus Notes Release 1 Gold Build was compiled, and while the launch itself wasn’t until a few days later on the 7th of December, it was the birthday for Domino and Notes. But that was just the beginning.
After 6 short years, and immense success, Lotus Development Corporation, the original development company for Lotus Notes, was acquired by IBM for $3.5 billion USD in what would be IBM’s largest acquisition in its history. And this transformative software would transform the tech giant. With the close of the acquisition in 1995, Lotus Development became a new business unit at IBM, and was the very start of the IBM Software Group. That’s right — the acquisition of Lotus was the spark that made IBM a software focused business, a precursor to the business unit that would create IBM Watson and IBM Cloud.
But as with most large companies, IBM’s priorities shifted, product updates stalled, and the once vibrant community so aptly called “Team Yellow” was left on its own in many ways. This came to a head in October 2017 when HCL Technologies announced an IP partnership with IBM Collaboration Solutions to take on development for Domino to deliver the first product update users would have seen in years, and on October 10, 2018, Domino v10 was released. To say it reinvigorated the platform would be an understatement. People around the world quite literally rolled out the yellow carpets to celebrate this monumental moment. And the success was noticed. On December 7, 2018, literally 29 years to the day after Lotus Notes Release 1 was compiled, HCL Technologies announced an intent to purchase Domino (and Sametime, Connections, and Digital Experience) and a number of other valuable, yet underserved products. The groundwork and path to a new decade was taking shape.
Where We Are Today
On July 1, 2019, the acquisition closed, and these legendary products found new life at HCL Software. But starting off at a new company has its starts and stops. We had to build a new website, set up core systems, look back at our pricing and licensing models, consider technical debt in the products, and take a hard look at where we wanted to take the products in the future. It was a lot — to say the least — but the HCL teams are ready to tackle every challenge. We are going to reinvigorate the Domino brand yet again. And, as we hope you realize, this is — again — only the beginning. We are happy to be on this journey with you. Read about our recent Live from Tokyo event and see just how we are building momentum.
To the next decade and beyond,
Head of Marketing, HCL Digital Solutions
We in Digital Solutions marketing are new to HCL. And we have a lot to do. The recent logo and branding re-imagining and the launch that we broadcast live from Tokyo is the beginning of a new era.
From a marketing perspective, we wanted to signal a change, put a flag in the ground to say, “Forget what you knew about these products, it’s time to look forward.” And after only a few weeks, we delivered an entirely new brand with new logos and creative under HCL Digital Solutions. We leaned heavily into a new color pallet, and completely redesigned all product logos. It was a chance, not one often given to marketers, to remake something that is already well-known and revered.
Our lead designer on the project was Liam McCormick, and I think he describes the design system best when he tells us, ”We went in search of something in HCL’s history that we could build upon, and what we found was what we considered the design DNA in the original HCL logo — it’s shear angle of 24.24 degrees. We took that angle, and built a grid system, and (take or leave a few hundred iterations) the new logo family was born from this original structure which can always be traced back to the mother brand of HCL.” And trust me, we could not have had better talent working on this redesign (Liam also helped design the Cisco WebEx and Vodafone logos).
But that wasn’t all we needed to do. We needed to capitalize on the momentum started with the launch of HCL Domino v10 to the rest of the portfolio. The first out of the gate on October 7, 2019, was HCL Digital Experience 9.5, a proven digital experience management platform and the very first product release for the newly acquired products. The new release provided many significant business and technical benefits, including unsurpassed standardization and flexibility, accelerated time-to-market, liberated experience delivery, and a lower total cost of ownership. And hundreds of clients and valuable business partners joined us in-person in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Milan to celebrate the launch.
Then, just a mere five months after acquisition the major moment had arrived — on December 4th, 2019, HCL announced the general availability (GA) for HCL Domino v11, HCL Sametime v11, and HCL Connections v6.5. It was a milestone moment for the business, and I want to give a round of applause to the development teams that made it happen, many of which didn’t even have access to the code until post-acquisition in July. They worked tirelessly to reinvent the products and deliver on our commitments to our customers and business partners around the world. But it was the excitement that surrounded the launch that made me burst with joy, and our willingness to do something different that led to unforeseen impact.
“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” —Coco Chanel
Too often teams throw around words like “different” or “amazing,” but not acknowledging what we were able to accomplish with this truly “different” type of launch would be a misstep on my part as a leader. We knew we couldn’t go to market like IBM — we just aren’t that type of company, and frankly, it was time for a change. So, I tasked my team with thinking outside of the box for this launch.
And think outside of the box they did. They came to me with the idea of running a “Netflix-style” launch in which we broadcast the keynotes “Live from Tokyo” and then deliver 35+ pieces of new content ranging from thought leadership pieces to technical deep dives all at once in a “binge-able” format. I was dubious of course, but if there ever was a time to try it — now was that time.
After months of planning, we all got onto planes and flew to Tokyo for our big day. On December 4, 2019, at 9 AM ET (11 PM in the evening locally) we went live to the globe for the announcement of HCL Domino v11 and HCL Connections 6.5. And the impact was immediate: Thousands upon thousands of customers and partners tuned in live all over the world, and over 50+ business partners held concurrent viewing parties to celebrate in 20+ countries. The world map looked like a lit-up Christmas tree!
And it wasn’t just the marketing team that delivered impact in such a short timeframe. The product management and development teams made significant technical advancements for these products. We announced:
HCL Domino v11 builds on our mission: Apps that run your business.
HCL Connections 6.5 has powerful new features to drive adoption and builds a foundation for future releases:
HCL Sametime v11 delivers secure conversations across every device:
Suffice it to say, this launch was one for the record books, but it really is only the springboard with which we will start a new decade. And if you were to ask me what I felt like this moment meant for us, I’d say it’s providing the foundation for true innovation on the platform. Which brings me to where are we going.
Where We’re Going
Our transition to HCL has meant moving not just a suite of products but also people and teams, and if there’s one question that the leadership team gets asked the most by our customers and partners it’s, “Are you actually going to invest in the products?”
It’s a straightforward question, and there’s a straightforward answer to it: Yes. I, for one, am incredibly excited and humbled by the amount being invested into the teams developing these products, the marketing and sales engine that drive them, and into the teams solely dedicated to push the bounds of what’s possible on our platforms. With that, here are a few of the important ways we are investing — deeply — in our teams and technology:
At HCL, our motto is “Relationship Beyond the Contract.” And we mean it. My commitment to you is that we will listen to you more and be bolder in our plans. We don’t have the luxury or the crutch of working for a software behemoth anymore, but we also don’t have the red tape to stop us from trying new things. Our marketing will be different — I assure you.
But more than anything, know that this is only the beginning, and I am so excited for where we are headed. It’s time for all of us to usher in a new decade at a new company for these legendary products.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year,
Head of Marketing, HCL Digital Solutions
HCL Verse On-Premises (Verse)’s superior user experience means there’s less clutter and more clarity while using mail to get your work done faster. Designed for browser-based mail on both desktop and mobile devices, Verse gives you everything you need.
HCL Software is pleased to announce the release of HCL Verse On-Premises 1.0.9 for general availability. Verse 1.0.9 highlights include:
Administrators can use the notes.ini setting iNotes_WA_UseRelativeUrl=1 to enable archive mail file URLs to be relative to the Domino server being used.
HCL Verse User and Admin documentation can be found here.
HCL Verse Developer site can be found here.
If you have requests for new features, please submit them in the VOP category on the Domino Ideas Portal.
Domino Product Team
We recently hosted a webcast for HCL Business Partners, where we talked about how to build your Domino customer base and earn valuable additional revenue for your organization by restarting customers with Domino V11. Hundreds of you attended, and as usual a lot of great questions were asked. All questions that came at us are answered here.
The Moment We've Been Waiting for: HCL's Global Launch of Domino v11, Connections 6.5, and Sametime v11.
Are you ready to join us? The moment we have all been waiting for is here: The global launch of the newest versions of Domino, Connections, and Sametime. Domino v11 catapults us into the next generation of app dev. Connections 6.5 drives user adoption and builds a strong foundation for our future releases. Sametime v11 has a new, sleeker user experience.
But this is about more than just product releases. This launch represents a major milestone in HCL’s commitment to our customers and to modernizing and innovating a whole portfolio.
The global launch of Domino and Sametime v11 and Connections 6.5 is right around the corner. In a recent webcast, we had Paul Withers and Tim Malone from Intec join our own Andrew Manby for a Q&A on the progress of the Domino and Nomad betas, key features for the V11 timeframe, and updates on launch events. Hundred attended the webcast and many of you asked great questions. We’ve compiled them here, along with our answers.
I’m thrilled to share with you the people behind the Domino, Leap, and Sametime product management team, some of which you know already, and some who are probably new to you. These are the people that work closely with HCL development, sales, support and marketing, our HCL Masters, and Business Partners to get the Domino and Sametime portfolio to market.
On October 30, we announced our newly selected Managed Service Providers (MSPs), called HCL Cloud Hosting Partners, with transparency into our selection process, data migration strategies by desired destination, and a timeline for next steps. We also launched a new website for our HCL Cloud Hosting Partners with additional information you may need in support of your migration.
At Collabsphere in Boston, October 28–30, 2019, those of you who attended the Connections strategy session learned what we have planned through the end of this year and heading into 2020. For those of you who couldn’t join us, here is what we shared about the upcoming Connections 6.5 release. We are excited to be giving Connections the attention and investment it deserves and to be making this journey with you.
Join HCL and Key Business Partners for Our Global Product Launch, Broadcasting Live from Tokyo on December 4 and at Viewing Parties Near You
Join us as we broadcast live from Tokyo on December 4, at 9 a.m. ET — and at Business Partner viewing parties around the world — when we announce HCL’s first major releases for Domino V11, Notes V11, Sametime V11, and Connections 6.5. Tune in on this historic day for live demos, news, roadmaps, technical sessions, and strategy roadmaps — and to learn about the future from executives, thought leaders, and technical wizards.