Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: BAM!

There really is a lot to say about 2013 so let's get to it...


The Business

Product validated.  Pricing validated.  Infrastructure validated.  Growing pains required bringing on additional help and improving our internal processes.  Customer base quintupled in 2013.  Based on customer interest, product offering, current level of customer penetration and expanded marketing plans, 2014 should see continued growth of at least 300%.

We have successfully created a new product segment within the corporate governance industry.  Our customers include Fortune 100-1000 companies across the United States in Commercial Airlines, Equipment Manufacturing, Real Estate Management, Sporting Goods, Telecommunications, Oil & Gas Production, Utilities, Logistics, Clothing Manufacturing, Government Services and Financial Services. Strict non-disclosure agreements are in place with each customer so we cannot name names but some are globally recognizable brands while others are less well known but all are publicly traded except for a private trust company founded by an iconic American brand.

All in all, a very successful year.  Our goal for 2014 is to maintain the high level of service our customers currently enjoy while growing the business in a responsible way through expanded customer outreach and expanded product offerings.



XPages

XPages has done everything we have needed and has done so with amazing consistency.  IBM's JSF/Domino implementation and Domino's true openness have allowed us to create a very powerful, cost-effective, secure product offering and we are committed to Domino for the foreseeable future.

We use no Extension Library.  In fact, the only piece of software we use outside of standard vanilla XPages is PD4ML for PDF creation.  While I have almost only good things to say about XPages, I really only have good things to say about the NSF itself.  For an application like ours (and a tremendous number of other applications), the NSF data store is simply superb.  The fact that the thing was conceived back in the 80s and was able to be improved and extended since then and is still so competitively viable today is a real testament to the genius and vision of Ray Ozzie and the Iris Associates folk.  We evaluate other platforms regularly and there simply is not anything right now that we would remotely consider using instead of Domino.

XPages are not flawless though.  The CKEditor is a real pain in a very complex truly dynamic application.  The screen jumping during partial refreshes and mobile support have been and continue to be a major functionality hurdle for us.  In addition, the lack of ability, within our application anyway, to target partial refreshes in a more granular way is also a challenge of the platform...both JSF and XPages.  From a technical perspective, these two items will be high on our technical punchlist in 2014.  Like they were in 2013.  And in 2012.  We are well aware of the "fixes" for some of these issues where they might possibly exist but, to date, we have not found viable solutions to work for our needs.  We have work arounds but I'd sleep better at night with something a little better in place.  Still, 'tis a relatively small complaint inside of a true Ocean of XPages Goodness.


The Lotus/IBM Community

I was loathe to give voice to this a year ago but clearly the migration is already in full swing so it can't hurt at this point: The Lotus Community that was, is no more.  Those "in the know" (which I never was nor did I want to be) will say that things changed years ago but for those of us regular Domino-peeps who make up the vast majority of the technical community, the changes at Lotusphere this year coupled with some very prominent Domino people gently but decidedly "moving on" clearly indicates that some things are never coming back.

I don't necessarily think that is good or bad but it is a little bit sad because I kept to myself and my own peeps for far too long from 1996 - 2009 to really have gotten to enjoy the people of the Golden Age.  That is my loss.  Uh, in many cases, anyway.

Despite the fact that I do not see Connections ever garnering the same kind of following (it's not for me and I'm pretty sure it is not for the majority of people/companies either at least for another two years), I do see a very vibrant group of technical experts focused exclusively on the Domino platform and that focus has produced some truly fantastic content over on StackOverFlow, PlanetLotus and various blogs.

The old ways are gone but the future is very bright indeed.


Me

I finally clawed my way into getting to deliver a session in Orlando in January at IBM Connect2013 and by all measures it went very well.  I could not have been more pleased with my experience and I think many people really got something valuable out of my session.  Every single time I speak, I just want someone else to be inspired/motivated/educated to do something they might not have known they could do so I was pretty proud of the whole thing.  Glad I got to do it.

I was named as an IBM Champion for 2013, which I knew about being nominated for, and an IBM Champion for 2014, which I did not know about being nominated for.  I don't know which congratulation email was more of a surprise but I can tell you that it is literally a thrill to have been selected.

As an IBM Champion I was invited to be in the Champions picture and as a speaker I was also invited to participate in GuruPalooza.  Let me tell you something about that experience.  I contributed a bit from the stage but here's the simple truth:  Those other people up there? Yeah, they're like IBM Software Savants!  When you meet them individually, they're all really smart and, mostly, nice people but when you gather them into a group like that and put them on a stage ready to answer questions...they become this palpable and almost tangible mental force.  Damn!  Those people are really smart.  Pretty humbling.

Marky Roden threw up some very impressive blog stats in 2012 and so I endeavored to make more of an effort on my blog.  I pushed past 50,000 visits early in the year and now stand at a bit over 76,000.  I was kind of hoping to get over 100K but you can't do that if you're not cranking out good content on a regular basis like some other excellent bloggers out there (Paul Withers, Kathy Brown, Brad Balassaitis, Chris Toohey and others...I'm talking about you!)  Work really just kept me so very busy the last half of the year there was not a lot of time for blogging etc.

Got to deliver a session at IAMLug in May, too.  Very fun!

After May though it was Seattle in July for a conference, vacation in Italy in August, another conference in September in Denver and work, work, work!  So much work in the last month that apparently I worked myself right into pneumonia as of last Saturday night.  Yeah, that's not happening any more!  Not fun.

It turns out I'll be at IBM Connect next month after all so, if you see me, please introduce/re-introduce yourself and let's talk XPages or development or jobs or politics or whatever!


Special Thanks 

Let me say that I have learned a lot of things this year but one lesson stands out: To build something you need more help than you probably realize. 
Many thanks to my wife, Karen.  It is almost impossible to overstate how thankful I am for your support and counsel. Love you!
Paul...dude.  Fantastic effort!  Thank you! 
Jeanne-Anne and Roseanne: It is literally true to say we would not be where we are without your efforts.  Thank you.


You

I hope each of you had a great 2013 and I wish each of you a productive, happy and healthy 2014.