Danish company dropped Office 365 for IBM SmartCloud


Langhoff Promotion dropped MS Office 365 and chose IBM SmartCloud for Social Business.
Langhoff Promotion dropped MS Office 365 and chose IBM SmartCloud for Social Business.

The danish company Langhoff Promotion threw MS Office 365 in the garbage bin and chose IBM SmartCloud for Social Business.

One of the reasons for quitting MS Office 365 was that their employees «drowned» in all the functionalities. Langhoff Promotion tested MS Office 365 for a while, but the test group was not satisfied with the solution, according to Søren Langhoff, the company’s CEO.

Langhoff Promotion has 40 employees situated in Denmark and Philippines. They wanted to connect their employees and customers in virtual communities where all communication centers around activities, not on person to person communication.

– We are a small but very complex company. We cooperate with other companies and customers across borders and time zones in 25 countries, says CEO Søren Langhoff to Computerworld Denmark.

– It is difficult to create a common understanding while working remote and dispersed. That is why we wanted a solution that connected people in a better way than email. A social collaboration tool creates transparency and visibility, which is a must for innovation and knowledge sharing across borders and work responsibilities.

The group that tested MS Office 365 had 10 members that tested the system heavily. But they did not find it intuitive or user friendly. They also had to use time to guide new users through all the functionalities even though they did not have time for IT-support.

– Last, but not least, we were unsure of the security and the sharing of documents and files. Who had access to what?

According to the CEO, the solution had to have some of the cloud and office functions that Office 365 had, but be much more intuitive and user friendly.

It was extremely important that the solution could be used both internally and externally, so information, activities and tracking of projects could be shared both with customers and partners.

– All tasks and communications related to a project is now collected in a community where both we and the customer have access. That way we have all project history in one central place and not in isolated emails on a local computer, says Langhoff.

After a short test period, Langhoff Promotion moved both data and communication from MS Office 365 to IBM SmartCloud for Social Business.

– It really fills our needs! Our employees, no matter what age, love this new way of working in this social collaboration tool. We do not throw away the email system, but the most important is that our employees understand the value of focusing on the tasks!

Read more about IBM SmartCloud for Social Business HERE!

21 Comments

  1. I think the hundreds of thousands of users who have moved off Notes and onto Exchange / Office 365 since I started at Microsoft will make up for losing 40 users. By the way, the company name is ‘Microsoft’ not ‘MS’.

      1. So here’s a few users that have gone in the direction of IBM SmartCloud but far more have moved away from IBM solutions and onto Office 365.

        And I pointed out the fact that Microsoft are named Microsoft, not MS, because if there is a company named ‘MS’ they’re not the company that provides Office 365.

        1. MS is a much used abbreviation for Microsoft. I could also use their stock ticker which is MSFT and is used by most financial media around the world.
          It is also a fact that IDC has ranked IBM as the worlds market leader four years in a row measured on social collaboration solutions for the enterprise and revenue wise.
          IBM Connections has been on the market for seven years, while Microsoft just bought Yammer to get up to speed in the social collaboration market while they rule the email and word processing market, but hardly on any other platform than their own Windows.

          1. MS is a much-used abbreviation for Microsoft but doesn’t mean it’s correct. Nowhere is MS used in any branding or product names.

            “IDC has ranked IBM as the worlds market leader four years in a row measured on social collaboration solutions for the enterprise and revenue wise” – that analysis valued the social collaboration market at $1 billion. SharePoint, it was announced last year, is a $2 billion business. SharePoint is twice as large as the entire social collaboration market that IDC is measuring, and that shows that SharePoint isn’t actually included in IDC’s analysis (if it was, it would have 66% of the market).

            Connections may have been in the market for seven years – and I still believe it’s a great product, a very strong competitor – but we’re not seeing it often. In the top 39 accounts in the Enterprise Finance sector in the UK, Connections is deployed at just three of them. SharePoint is deployed at all of them.

  2. Darren, you say “SharePoint is deployed at all of them.”
    The fact is that we are not talking about the same thing. Connections and Sharepoint are different products. Arned was mentioning the IDC report on “SOCIAL collaboration”.

    1. Connections and SharePoint are different products, but SharePoint is able to provide social collaboration. IDC have chosen not to include it.

      1. Yes, Darren. They are two totally different products. SharePoint is a framework to build solutions on. Connections comes with all the social tools out of the box. Connections integrates easily (using plugins) with Office, Outlook, Windows Explorer and SharePoint. It gives SharePoint social tools that you will have to build in SharePoint. That is why Microsoft bought Yammer, because IBM was way ahead of them. One of my clients was a 100 % Microsoft house trying to develop social based on SharePoint. When they saw Connections they cancelled their SharePoint project and installed Connections. They publicly said that regarding social abilities IBM are three to five years ahead of Microsoft. Maybe that is the reason why close to every client I work with and chooses Connections already have SharePoint, but feel they did not get what they believed SharePoint to be…

      2. Arne’s latest comment doesn’t have a reply option so I’ll type it here. There’s no requirement to build social tools in SharePoint, they come in the box. It’s true that Connections is a strong social solution, I am not debating that – but there are things which Connections lacks and SharePoint has (workflow, document / records management, business intelligence, web publishing, building line-of-business applications). Connections’ file sharing is not acceptable to many customers because the content is unmanaged and has no life-cycle. Having experienced both I can also safely say that SharePoint’s search capability is much stronger. Connections may be ahead in some ways but there’s more to collaboration than the shopping list of social features.

        Microsoft did buy Yammer in order to quickly get more social capabilities (that’s one of the reasons, but not the only reason), but not specifically because IBM was way ahead. I come across Jive and Chatter as competitors far more often than Connections.

        1. Darren:

          You are right in a few things and wrong in most others.

          Most functionalities comes out of the box with IBM Connections. And I mean Out-Of-The-Box – no further development or configuration. These are: Profiles, Communities, Files, Blogs, Wikis, Activities, Tags, Connections Mail, Connections Calendar, Social Analytics, and so on. These are all Out-Of-The-Box functions and is easily installed in a three days server software installation. Then there will be one or two days of setting up the replication of user data from Active Directory or LDAP. That is done by the use of Tivoli Directory Integrator (TDI) which is included in the license.

          There is partly workflow in Activities and more can be added with CCM (Connections Content Manager). Records management happens with an addition (CECE) to CCM. And yes there is Business Intelligence as Connections comes with Social Analytics and more may be added through IBM’s Cognos solutions.

          Web publishing? Yes, you are correct, Connections does not do that directly and out-of-the-box, since that happens by the use of WebSphere Content Manager (WCM) which is IBM’s Portal solution. Or it may be solved by using third party solutions like i.e. iSite from the Norwegian company Crayon or Enonic Web Publishing from the Norwegian company Enonic. Both excellent solutions that are chosen by many great and well know companies.

          You also say that it is not possible to build line of business applications in IBM Connections. That is wrong. Such apps are built as widgets or J2EE applications on a WebSphere Application Server (WAS) platform.

          So, it all cooks down to this:

          A clean cut IBM Connections with Out-Of-The-Box functionalities are installed as is in only five -5- days! Ready to run! All included with only one software license needed for each user. All software needed is included. If you want the add on’s you will in some cases need some more licenses and more configuration, depending on what you want to achieve.

          Now, Darren;

          Tell me what functions comes out of the box with SharePoint without extra added software and no extra licenses! Clean cut SharePoint! Do you have to buy Microsoft Office (see, no MS this time)? Do you have to buy SQL server? Do you have to buy extra CAL’s? What other software do you need to achieve the same functionalities?

          And please also tell me how much time it takes to give a SharePoint customer exactly the same functionalities in SharePoint as I mentioned as a Out-Of-The-Box-No-Extra-Licenses that IBM Connections will give the same customer in just five days?

          I am very much looking forward to your answer!

          1. It amuses me that you say it comes out-of-the-box, and then go on to mention Cognos, WAS, WCM and Portal. True to say that SharePoint doesn’t do everything out-of-the-box, but one thing I see from IBM and its partners is a tendency to exaggerate the difficulty and requirements for building an application. You can do a lot without Visual Studio, you can even do a lot without SharePoint Designer – you can do a lot within native SharePoint using nothing more than the ability to create fields, forms, lists and modifying the workflow models supplied.

            On the subject of IBM exaggerating the difficulty and requirements of building applications in SharePoint, I’ve read the recent Notes vs SharePoint competitive kit. Whoever wrote that needs to go back and check their facts and learn some more about SharePoint – they got a lot of things very wrong, which decreases its credibility.

            Let me re-state my position that I think that Connections is an excellent product. Activities are a really great capability, but the workflow is fairly simple and not very flexible. You can’t design a workflow with nested conditions, you can’t get it to execute an entire alternative workflow stage, and as far as I remember it won’t do an approval cycle for an item, check-in / check-out, stuff like that. As I said above, you can do things natively in SharePoint, but Visio is a good add-on tool for creating workflows. It comes with a set of shapes which correlate directly with things that happen in SharePoint, so something like creating a workflow which includes routing and approval cycles can be created in a matter of minutes – no coding involved, you drop the boxes into place and add some settings to them.

            Line-of-business applications – I’ll admit it’s a vague term. It could be as simple as a basic custom list of info captured, right through to a full business application where the data starts somewhere else, ends somewhere else, and SharePoint is being used for the vehicle to perform the workflow and collaboration in the middle. As I remember, you can’t use Connections to build a custom application to capture some data, pass it through workflow, and move it onto (for example) SAP or an HR system. Yes, you could build some widgets to interact with an application built and hosted elsewhere.

            I’m interested by Connections Content Management, is that what came in with version 4.5? Is it based on FileNet?

            SharePoint does include Performance Point for business intelligence, but as you say it does require an Enterprise CAL. It will also integrate with SQL Server’s BI tools, just as Connections integrates with Cognos (SharePoint has Cognos integration too). Increasingly businesses are looking to bring BI to more users – one of our strategies is to utilise the PowerPivot and Power View technology in Excel, and that also integrates with SharePoint. You say that Connections provides BI through its Social Analytics, but that seems to me to be analytics around peoples’ use of the social tools – not, for example, drilling down to product sales in a region across a market sector for a particular quarter with KPIs.

            You said “All included with only one software license needed for each user” – we can offer the same proposition, we can offer an Enterprise CAL.

            There is no requirement to buy Microsoft Office in order to use SharePoint, but a user will get a greater range of functionality with Office available. No argument there.

            You asked “what functions comes out of the box with SharePoint without extra added software and no extra licenses?” – this is some of the functions:

            – Social capabilities (profiles, newsfeeds, document sharing, blogs, wikis, communities, forums, search, tasks, tagging, following, recommendations) – this is without Yammer
            – Document management (check-in / check-out, version control, policies, life-cycles, archiving, workflow, mandated metadata, recommending / liking, sharing, following, desktop integration)
            – Building ‘applications’ (lists, forms, views, workflow)
            – Calendars
            – Tasks (created in different SharePoint sites and assigned workflow tasks are sucked into one consolidate task list for the user)
            – Announcements
            – Surveys
            – Contact list
            – Links list
            – Search
            – Web content management and publishing
            – Media / video / image library
            – Issue tracking
            – Team sites (like Quickr, but you can put all of the above into a team site)

            I don’t know how long it takes to get SharePoint installed in a production environment – the old adage “how long is a piece of string?” comes to mind. One of my colleague installed a SharePoint server in a couple of hours, but that was in a test environment.

            1. Wow! Glad to amuse! And glad to hear that SharePoint finally can do all those things! I am just wondering why so many of my customers that buy IBM Connections – about 50 % of them – already have Microsoft all over, even SharePoint…

              🙂

  3. Darren, you are saying “SharePoint is deployed at all of them.”.
    What Arne was referring to was an IDC study on “SOCIAL Collaboration”.
    So, I think, this is not the same topic.

  4. Arne;

    We evaluated Office 365 (Wave15) for our large, global 30k seat organization earlier this year, and the product eval fell flat on its face. Many things did not work. Answers back from MS presales were pathetic lies, distortions and fabrications that were probably required of the poor pre sales guy from the MS tech people “backing them up”. Mail routing (an absloute basic function) was intermittent; the products were cobbled together and far, far from integrated, presence was limited to certain aspects, the Lync portion was poorly designed and implemented, etc, etc, etc. IMAP was non implemented to the known standards.

    We were prepared to spend tens of millions of dollars with Microsoft, we had all but written off IBM, but the MS eval and test area was so universally poorly received, that MS lost that business, and IBM gained a bunch of new business. I feel sorry for the sales teams and MS; they have been given a ripe, nasty turd to sell, and when the turd does not function, they are not able to make the sales.

    The evaluation of the on-premise products of the same family fared poorly as well. Exchange in particular made our network and security people cringe.

    MS is not innovating, they are trying to defend the positions they held in the market in the past.

    1. I too hear from customers that are evaluating, or even in the process of implementing Office 365, that perhaps things are not exactly what they were promised, or even worse, not what they promised their users.

      What is significant about the Langhoff story is not the size of the customer – they are very small – but their use case, what they are trying to do, is no small deal. They were looking for a tool that could improve their collaboration with their customers – some of which are very large companies with globally known brands. These companies are now using SmartCloud and not SharePoint on-line to collaborate with their partner. It was the fit to purpose provided that caused the decision to be made the way it was.

      Interesting that a small customer like this can stir up all this commotion. But as your example show others too find Office 365 less than perfect.

  5. The problem seems to be that Microsoft are portraying SharePoint as the Swiss knife that will provide for all your business needs. Our customers luckily do not see it that way. It is not about SharePoint or Connections but about choosing the best solution for the job. SharePoint is not the best social business tióol around, and even if the features are there, customers are struggling to implement them (upgrade requirement, Yammer? etc.).

    SharePoint has been a huge success, but especially social features have been lagging to put it nice. Subsequently most organizations heavily into SharePoint have been largely unsuccessful in adopting social. The web isn’t exactly overflowing with customers telling us how great their social journey with SharePoint has been.
    This has meant that there has been room for others to provide the missing/limited functionality. Newsgator is one prominent example. Social is apparently an area too good for Microsoft to leave it to partners (it also needs to be tightly integrated/coupled in order to provide the transformational effects this technology has), and this is at least part of the reasoning behind their Yammer acquisition.

    Yammer being a cloud only solution has left SharePoint customers with a new problem. Should they add social locally – using the limited functionality available in SharePoint 2013, through a SharePoint partner add-on like Newsgator, or should they employ Yammer and try to get a cohesive solution out of the mix?
    This is what one analyst described as “clear as mud”.
    Central figures in Microsoft’s SharePoint team have stated that the future is Yammer and recently we learned that by SharePoint ‘next’ time (Fall 2015 guesstimate), SharePoint will have the ability of having an update stream based on Yammer w.o. having to use cloud. Until then however customers that choose to make SharePoint the social hub will be facing issues. Social meta data added in Yammer will not be available in on-premises SharePoint and vise versa. Not an ideal situation.

    First and foremost the challenge SharePoint customers are facing is that they will need to upgrade to SharePoint 2013 before they can add the social features needed. One large customer described their SharePoint 2010 upgrade as a nightmare and added “Never again!”. Many like this customer are not too keen on that upgrade.
    Connections can be a better and faster implemented solution and fortunately many SharePoint customers have already realized that. Everyone appears to be using SharePoint, but certainly not everyone is considering SharePoint to be the right social business solution.

  6. i am reading this .. but choose not to spoke my opinion.

    Well, I got provoked.

    The fact that there’s some where customer choose IBM over Office365, is something that happen.
    The fact the MORE customers choosing Office365 over IBM … is also something that happens.

    Which one we see more ?
    Based on my experience … it’s the second one. especially in my part of the world : ASIA, spesifically South east Asia.

    Why ?
    1. Simply because cloud customers needs good performance in accessing the service.
    Microsoft has put some hard work in optimizing the network routing, in effort to provide better service that Google, and also data center for O365 customers in Singapore and Hong Kong..

    IBM … ??? not sure about this.

    I know a customer who’s now in IBM Smart Cloud customer reference, which considering not to extend IBM Smart cloud, just because of this connectivity / bandwith issue.

    2. Partners adoption of IBM smart cloud .. vs Partners Adoptoin of Office365 … vs partners Adoptions of Google Apps.
    I believe, the most adopted platform by technology partners, will determine the market dominance.
    What I know in my area, automatically most cloud player considering Google Apps despite the security concern .. some are now moving to Office365, … very little I know using / will be using IBM smart cloud.

    3. Interface familiarity.
    We need to have studies probably, to find out about this, but in ASIA, people nowadays (not the old generations) are most probably used to Microsoft interfaces. well, BPOS interface was ugly, but O365 new interface is much better. Some learning curve is needed, but overall, it’s a part in their life.
    — in their phone,
    — in their windows,
    — in their xbox,
    — in the airport.
    Honestly ,, it feels more modern to be – subjectively.. let’s not debate about that.

    About Connections …

    I really like Connections, it’s simple yet helpful, but SharePoint is catching up, probably in 12 months.
    For some companies that urgently need features in Connections and feels it’s like priority no. 1 .. they will choose Connections ..
    For others, don’t worry, SharePoint I believe will catch up. Now, it’s up to Connections to widen their gap.

    My points it … IBM is in hot seat now, as Microsoft is being more aggressive.
    But the more important things probably .. we need to be more open, and reset our knowledge…

    It’s not the IBM I knew after I work for IBM, it’s not Microsoft I know after I work for Microsoft.

    Looking ahead … i am sure both system would still have fans… it’s just which is larger .. will be determined starting now.

    1. And with that said, as a summary of this debate, I am closing this discussion! But hang on to the blog. There will be more provocative stuff coming up!

      Thank you all for participating!

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