I've been thinking about this a lot lately as I talk with customers to learn what they think about our product and why. I've learned a lot and I have learned a lot about what people think about Lotus and why. In general, people seem to be surprisingly passionate - one way or the other.

So, what if Notes users loved Lotus the way iPhone users love Apple?

We know that many if not most of our customers have become huge fans of Notes (and to some extent, Lotus). So, we know it's possible.

As we look ahead to Lotusphere 2011 and talk with other attendees/non-attendees as well as business partners and exhibitors, I hear a variety of emotions about Lotus. Like many, I'm hopeful for a shift in the way that Lotus does business, engages with its customers, and presents itself in the market.

I find it helpful to think about successful outcomes in terms of "Wild Success" and to ask myself what that would look like. This prompted me to consider the question I put in the title of this blog post: What if Notes users loved Lotus the way iPhone users love Apple?

I'd like to have a discussion, so let me begin by asking a few questions about different facets of the above...

What if Notes users loved Lotus the way iPhone users love Apple?
a) What would that look like?

b) What would it take to get there?

c) What would need to happen at Lotusphere 2011 to facilitate that?

I look forward to the discussion!

Discussion/Comments (12):

Paul Gardner (http://www.paulgardner.info/): 12/20/2010 1:04:20 PM
What if Notes users loved Lotus the way iPhone users love Apple?

I think the main thing would be ease of use when it comes to finding and downloading the great stuff that's available.

I'm pretty savvy about most things computer but when I go to the Lotus website to find something all I seem to find is gobbledygook (from a layman's point of view).

Compare that to the iPhone (or in my case, Android) App store and there you have a big part of the issue.

Eric Mack (www.ica.com): 12/20/2010 1:10:47 PM
re: What if Notes users loved Lotus the way iPhone users love Apple?

Paul, there are many templates available on OpenNTF but you have to know what you are doing to use them. At this time, most are not for end-users anyway. So, I assume you are referring to ease of use when extending the value you get from your product? In this case, Lotus Notes? Interesting.

Fredrik Malmborg (http://www.replikera.se): 12/21/2010 1:05:21 AM
What if Notes users loved Lotus the way iPhone users love Apple?

The love is created by Apple by loads of advertisement and great look and feel.

Now Lotus Notes is not a gadget and should not be.

Maybe IBM should invent some gadget connected to Lotus Notes that is great looking and gives the people an "I WANT IT" experience. With some value you only get together with our favourite software.

Then IBM should do more of the thing starting with "adv...", and it should be more targeted at persons istead of businesses.

Keith Brooks (http://www.vanessabrooks.com): 12/21/2010 6:12:40 AM
What if Notes users loved Lotus the way iPhone users love Apple?

Interesting post.

I like Fredrik's idea of a Notes device but that is what Traveler was about, to let it go everywhere. otherwise a yellow Blackberry is what I envision.

Lotus apps can be very easily liked, its the one's, like yours, based on the client or just in general email which is the issue.

Any other domino app has a UI the developer gives it.

IBM is not likely to truly redesign the client.

Eric Mack (www.ica.com): 12/21/2010 9:01:15 AM
re: What if Notes users loved Lotus the way iPhone users love Apple?

Good comments about Notes. Let's think outside the box for a minute. What else might we/IBM/Lotus do to bring about wild success here?

Eric Mack (http://www.EricMackOnline.com): 12/21/2010 5:36:31 PM
Make it personal and you won’t be able to pry it away

One thing I have learned -- and it happened to me again today -- is that people's perception of the product is largely shaped by the training/support they received. Case in point, today an IBM customer called; she uses eProductivity and something went wrong with her Notes installation. She called IBM In-house support (outsourced to India) who, reading from a script, managed to destroy her e-mail inbox.

Frantic, she hung up with IBM support and sent us an email asking for help. We did, and we were able to fix the problems and get her back up and runing. During that time, I learned that she worked for a company that was purchased and that in the move she was given Lotus Notes with no training. I forgot to point out that she's a Sr. person, not a front-line worker -- not that it should make any difference.

No wonder why she hates Notes; her only few experiences have been negative. We were able to fix her problem, change her perception, and make Lotus Notes PERSONAL. That is really the key that I am learning makes all the difference.

When tools becomes personal -- people see it as "Their tool." Whether it's an iPhone or Notes, the secret as I see it is to find a way to make it personal.

What do you think?

Keith Brooks (http://www.vanessabrooks.com): 12/21/2010 5:58:31 PM
What if Notes users loved Lotus the way iPhone users love Apple?

I think that the tool can become personal but the UI is something people can't get over.

See my post in the morning of the Android Tablet with email and its simplicity.

This is what people want.

Yes, some people want all the nuances of a full client but I would guess 80% of everyone could be happy with "just email" simplicity.

And as I said, once you are talking about anything except email, the back end means nothing to most people, it's the UI that is important. that and their data of course.

Eric Mack (www.ica.com): 12/21/2010 11:29:37 PM
re: What if Notes users loved Lotus the way iPhone users love Apple?

Keith, I think you bring up an excellent point about simplicity. I spoke with a customer last week and he asked me if there was a way we could modify our software (eProductivity) to put a skin over all of Lotus Notes so that Notes would be simpler. He said he wanted fewer features, not more. Then he asked if I had ever seen an iPad and how simple apps are. I explained that I had and that I understood but that at the same time, since Notes was an enterprise product, we could not simply hide or remove features as that could impede Notes functions. At the same time, if you go and look at what Mark Hughes has done with ITANA you can see that he's done an elegant job making tasks simple and shiny. Lots to think about.

I'm surprised so few have commented on this topic. Perhaps people are tired of the discussion; I'm certainly not the first to try and solve this challenge.

I do believe there is a solution out there. I have too much experience changing people's opinions of Notes for the better to believe otherwise.

Keith Brooks (http://www.vanessabrooks.com): 12/22/2010 6:20:36 AM
What if Notes users loved Lotus the way iPhone users love Apple?

Eric, I may be wrong, but you could hide some features, remove no, disable possibly.

But we really need to reskin Notes.

ITANA is for an iPhone, that doesn't count.

A phone has much more limited screen options.

Slick yes but that is up to the designer.

One thing I have learned from my recent book writing and previous articles over the last few years is the publishers really think they are selling books to academics, not guys on the street. My informal way of writing was discouraged. No real reason beyond, this is how we set our standard.

I opined that it could explain why readership dropped.

I hate reading tech manuals written with no sense of enjoyment, after all when someone really NEEDS that book they could use a bit of enjoyment, not more boredom.

Eric Mack (www.ica.com): 12/22/2010 7:39:58 AM
re: What if Notes users loved Lotus the way iPhone users love Apple?

Keith, I agree with you about writing style and the need for and conversation. Many years ago, I purchased a DOS flowcharting software program called EasyFlow. It came with a manual. But this manual was different. I read it cover to cover in one sitting. I laughed so hard, I had to read it again, and again.

What was it about that experience that caused me to share my experience almost 25 years later? In this case it was practical humor and the ability to keep p[eople engaged - to make them passionate about your product and company.

I remember one line to this day. To set the stage, you have to remember that at the time, there were lawsuits between Apple, Lotus, and Microsoft about their UIs and "Look and feel" of the UI.

Easyflow waas describing their menu system and they called them some kind of menues - I forget the term. But there was a not indicating that the reader should see the footnote which stated, "We were going to call them Pull down menus, but we didn't want Lotus to sue us for looking and feeling; we were going to move the menus to the bottom of the screen and call them "throw up" menus but we didn't think that would go over well either.


I wish I could find (or be) a writer like that. I';m not sure I have ever read a technical manual and enjoyed it so much since.

Keith Brooks (http://www.vanessabrooks.com): 12/22/2010 8:52:33 AM
What if Notes users loved Lotus the way iPhone users love Apple?

I remember the product but never read the docs.

Sounds like what I'd like to see, but rarely appears.

Nice quotes at the wikipedia site.

The problem is what you and I deem funny may not what others do. But that is not the point.

Wouldn't it be great if babelfish had an option to take legalese and make it into normal english translator?

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