I’m especially excited today, as this interview with Ed Brill is the first (in what I hope is a series) about IBM bloggers. Ed was nice enough to help point out that my RSS feeds got messed up when I switched templates. He performed this act of kindness when he didn’t know me from the next guy at the airport, which as you’ll read is where he’s been quite a bit lately. In another act of kindness, he stayed up late from who knows where to complete this interview.
When I first got on to blogging, Ed was one of the first guys at IBM I read. I encourage all of you to add him to your feeds.. He can also be found at developerWorks. So without further adieu…..Ed Brill.
What is your job title (and what does that really mean as far as your job)?
Business Unit Executive, Worldwide Lotus Notes/Domino Sales. I’m responsible for the success of these products in-market worldwide. That means I work outward — with IBMers, partners, customers to provide the right solution with Notes/Domino, and inward with product management, marketing, development and support to make sure we are building a successful product.
Some work experience that you want to tell?
I’ve been at Lotus for a little more than 11 years. I’ve had a variety of roles: pre-sales engineer, Notes product manager, Domino product marketing, Notes/Domino offerings manager (what most companies call a “brand manager”), Lotus competitive strategy leader. Before IBM/Lotus I was in IT at US Robotics, FTD, and Indiana University Computing Services. I’ve been “online” since 1988.
Any hobbies or fun stuff you want to discuss?
I really enjoy travel and photography. I’m fortunate that my job takes me to all corners of the planet, and I’ve visited 45 countries so far (30+ for business). I rollerblade when I can. I work out of a home office in my hometown, which is a really interesting thing when you consider the global nature of our company and specifically my role.
How do you describe what you do to your family and those who don’t work in our industry?
Heh — I tell them that I’m responsible for selling Lotus Notes. We have good brand recognition so a lot of people know the product even if they don’t use it. My mom used Notes at her last job before she retired. If they don’t know Lotus Notes, I just tell them I work in computer software or “internet stuff”.
What are good things about your job?
My job is an MBA-by-fire — I get involved in all aspects of running a market-leading, mainstream product for IBM. I get to talk to customers every single day. I work from home, and love the flexibility that offers. I work with a product that gets press and analysts talking, that draws customers to conferences, and that continues to confound and irritate my competitors. Most of all, I have met and continue to meet some really amazing people.
What are things you would change?
I’d like to be able to get more mindshare for my product within IBM. I’d like to be able to react to market conditions more quickly than sometimes is possible.
What are the biggest challenges at IBM?
IBMers have hundreds of solutions we can talk about with customers — hardware, software, services, business consulting, training, even financing. Our competitors like Microsoft and Oracle get to have laser-sharp focus when they talk to CIOs and CEOs. It would be great if I could have every IBMer talking to every customer about Lotus Notes. I’m sure every product leader at IBM would say the same thing 🙂
How did you get started as a blogger?
My friend Volker Weber encouraged me to try it out, not necessarily with a goal in mind but because I’ve always enjoyed writing publicly. Over time, it evolved into a way to continue the one-to-one interaction I’ve had with customers in our online product forums over the years, with more focus.
How has that changed your job?
I consider my blog to be a critical part of how I can be successful in my job. I get a sense as to what is going on in the market, and my customers know that they have a source for up-to-the-minute, unfiltered information. I’ve been able to win in the market, and especially been able to defend against competitors who are more liberal with their use of fear/uncertainty/doubt in the market, all through the voice of the blog and the blog-o-sphere.
Since analysts read this, what would you like to say to them about Lotus?
The analysts are mostly saying encouraging and positive things about Lotus these days. I’ve been pleased that they mostly recognize that Lotus has successfully passed through a technology transition period, and that the Lotus business is presently successful and growing. I think what I’d like analysts to consider is more around applying a critical eye to some of the messages coming from my competitors, either about their actual vs. perceived success or the robustness of their solutions.
What are you looking forward to in the upcoming years, either products or how you will work differently?
I’m really looking forward to the evolution into a full contextual collaboration era, with some of the tools IBM Research has been building for the last few years coming into actual shipping products. Specifically, I’m really interested in convergence of mobile/pervasive devices, instant messaging and VoIP, and other tools that will really be intelligent about message delivery and filtering.
Any thing else I missed you want to say?
I think the market will notice soon that there has been a huge increase in the number of IBM bloggers in the last few months. We have some strong and important voices, and my IBMer blogroll grows by the day. We might not have been the first company to embrace blogging, but it’s becoming increasingly important in how we embrace the IBM values around customer success and personal responsibility. I’m not afraid to tackle the tough questions customers are asking, and I think more and more we will see supply chain and vendor transparency like that in-market.