Over the next 15 years Microsoft did an exemplary job (I think) of convincing the world that Notes was just email and that it wasn't very good as such and that Outlook was better application because it was a really good Personal Information Management Tool (PIM). They did a good job of shifting the focus from the many things Notes did really well to the fact that its email and calendaring had some issues. Over time, Notes users listened to the message from Microsoft and, in the absence of new information to the contrary, began to think of Notes just an email client.
Lotus, then, IBM responded with improvements to email & calendar but missed the opportunity (in my opinion) to educate the world that the Notes client - even back then - was so much more than email.
Unfortunately, I think many people today still see Notes as an e-mail client and never consider the powerful communication and information management capability it contains - regardless of whether it is used with a Domino server or not.
It is my opinion that Notes is an undervalued tool and that it has great potential as an extraordinary communication and information management tool. Still, many people think of Notes as email and they may not think of it well at that. In the absence of marketing that would educate them otherwise, this is a challenge.
Personally, I would continue to use Notes for myself even if I did not have a Domino server.
In the 1990's when I was actively reselling Notes, I helped many people experience the power of Notes simply by selling them a stand-alone client and showing them what Notes could do for them. I did not sell collaboration. I simply met them where they were at. Within days, the question would inevitably come up: "This is great, how do I share my information with Mary?" Then, clients would beg for a solution and a Domino server sale was made. As I work with many Lotus business partners and Foundations resellers I'm learning that many of them are following a similar approach to win new customers.
I think the Notes design team is doing an extraordinary job with the Notes product. It looks great out of the box looks and each version gets better and better.
I am fortunately to have as clients and friends, some of the most productive people in the world. For the past 15 years they have been getting things done with Notes. And, telling others about it. I also have considerable first-hand experience showing people that may have a less-than-favorable opinion of Lotus Notes that the product does in fact do all of the things they think it can't - and more.
I believe that Lotus Notes is truly an extraordinary application, both by itself and with its ability to add third-party applications. I have built a business, not selling, but showing people how to use Lotus Notes effectively as a tool for information, communication, and action management. I also believe in the Notes product and the potential that it represents for IBM Lotus Business partners that I have invested in creating software applications that build on what Notes can do.
So where am I going with this post? If you have read this far, you have heard the thouhts of a passionate Notes user. Now, I want to ask you this question: Just what is Lotus Notes good for, anyway?
The inspiration for my question is Ed Brill's blog today: What kind of applications do you run on the Notes client stand-alone?
I want to know what you think.
Specifically, is there value in IBM making Lotus Notes available to end-users as a stand-alone communications and information management application? By "available" I mean with active web marketing and aircover targeted at first-time end-users to tell them that Lotus Notes is a great productivity application for their needs. I also mean making it easy for a first-time user to visit the IBM web site and find Notes and get it up and running. Or, is should Notes be left as-is, to be considered a program that some unfortunate workers are forced to use at work because of the shortsighted vision of their employers? (An actual comment I hear all too often.)
Do you think the market would benefit by learning that Lotus Notes is so much more than email? More important, do you think that people - individual consumers - would find value in Notes?
What features would you show people that would help them see the power of Notes in a way that brings value to them personally?
You can post a comment here or go and post something on Ed's blog.
P.S. I want to keep the attention focused on the topic of the Notes client and the value it has for individuals. Therefore, I have intentionally not mentioned any specific products as examples or included any links other than to Ed's blog.