On January 2, 2019, I googled the terms ” IBM HCL deal” and there were 48,000 results. I was surprised. Two days later, on January 4, the search results jumped to 18,900,000. I was blown away. I had no idea of the magnitude of this announcement. Due to fears expressed by some current WebSphere Commerce users, I decided to write an Open Letter to HCL.
I’m happy to report that my Open Letter to HCL had more than 2200 views in a few days. In fact, a few friends and customers took the time to comment on the letter on LinkedIn. Most importantly, it was picked up by AVP of Sales, HCL, Francois Nasser. He felt compelled to reach out and give me a call.
The following is an excerpt of our conversation.
I am glad you read my letter. How do you feel about it?
A colleague just sent me a link to your blog and I was nodding my head on everything you said so I think it’s good!
“Great! Thank you.”
How are you planning on engaging with WebSphere Commerce customers?
While we wait for the deal to close and the SEC approval (3-5 months), HCL is limited in what we can do and say to customers. IBM still owns and controls everything until then. We don’t have a list of customers. We know that there are approx 300 large customers, as well as many small to mid-sized customers, all of which will be very important to us.
There is a lot of bad press out there with some people saying that the software was sold to HCL to die. What do you say about that?
IBM has some great products. IBM has been prioritizing their investments to develop integrated capabilities in areas such as AI for business, hybrid cloud, cybersecurity, analytics, supply chain and blockchain as well as industry-specific platforms and solutions including healthcare, industrial IOT, and financial services. HCL’s focus is WebSphere Commerce, Appscan, BigFix, WebSphere Portal and Content Management, Collaboration and Unica. We spent 25% of our revenue to make this purchase. We bet our livelihood on this transaction. It would be crazy for us to disappoint our customers and not focus on them and give them the software that they need and the attention they deserve. We feel our size is an advantage in being able to move ahead quickly.
How should the business partners feel by the fact that your company is built on services?
Our goal is to slowly shift our organization towards a deeper relationship with customers and we feel building on an established software client base is the right approach, so we want to focus on all the software we purchased and make them best in class. We want to follow the same recipe we used to help IBM launch Domino 10 in October 2018. As soon as the IP transaction closed for Domino, we increased our development team to build Domino 10, releasing a major release within a year.
If we are serious about our software business, we must rely on business partners, so we want to keep reselling thru the business partners and build a strong eco-system.
We are currently working on our Online Partner Registration system and our goal is to have hundreds of partners onboarded by April 1, 2019 or close to the transaction date. They should be able to quote and resell. Per your advice, we want to rally behind business partners and work with everyone.
What kind of help do you need?
Under the IP Program with IBM, we have already worked with five of the products such as Lotus Notes, Domino, Portal, Appscan, BigFix and Unica. We don’t know WebSphere Commerce yet, as it was not under the current IP Program, but we will have a development team (from IBM) as part of the deal and we plan to invest. We will listen to customers and work with partners to position WCS for success. Together we will make it happen!
I appreciated the opportunity to speak with Francois as he was candid and honest about the challenges HCL is facing. I felt reassured by his transparency and enthusiasm. Although the company is smaller than IBM, but 4th largest company in India, HCL will give the attention that WebSphere Commerce needs to excel. Thank you for listening and engaging! Together, HCL, the Business Partners, and Customers can work together and take the baton to the next level, which is a win, win for all of us.