I have a long-standing interest in devices and applications that increase mobile knowledge worker productivity, particularly those that support the GTD methodology and can sync with Lotus Notes. The problem is that most of the devices that I have used to date fail in one or both categories. For this reason, I have continued use and recommend the Treo 755p for power GTD users that want a powerful mobile list manager that seamelessly integrates with Lotus Notes. It's not that the Treo is the best mobile platform out there. It isn't. It simply has the best native list manager for managing projects and actions using the GTD methodology.

Since I know that someone will object to my statement, let me explain what I want in a mobile list manager: I want to click one button and see my list of projects and actions, sorted by context. I do not want to have to click Start, Run, and then click a bunch of options to find my tasks. I also want these views and the way I set them up to be persistent, which rules out two of the most popular device families on the market today.  I don't mind using third party solutions to accomplish this, but for some devices, like the Nokia Series, they simply do not exist. I find it amazing that devices marketed to the business professional and equipped with so many productivity features would be so lacking in this vital component of productivity: list management.

For years, David Allen and I have discussed this: why do manufacturers make great hardware and then drop the ball when it comes to the suitability of their list management and task integration? (David uses a 755p, also.) I think it must be that manufacturers are expecting people to purchase based on the shiny features and not on what they can accomplish with the device. Earlier this year, a client generously gave me a shiny new Nokia E90 Communicator as a thank you gift. The E90 is a truly amazing mobile productivity device. Except, it has two problems: No task management. Zip. Zilch. Nada. (Unless you count their lame recording of a task as a note in a calendar event) and no reliable over-the-air sync of tasks to Lotus Notes. David and I played with this device this summer and agreed that while it sported an impressive list of hardware features it was essentially useless for us as a mobile GTD support tool. So, into pile of "really cool devices that I cannot use" it went. I hoped that someday, I might find a solution that would allow me to test this device as a list manager with Notes.  

As much as I like the device from a productivity perspective, the Palm OS-based Treo is rapidly being eclipsed by BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices with some competition from iPhone. (I say "some" as I have yet to find a suitable on-device sync and device management solution for iPhone, which means I won't recommend it for use with Notes and GTD.) I recently surveyed our customers that use eProductivity for Lotus Notes and found that well over 50% are using BlackBerry. In the U.S. the remaining 50% is made up of a large number of WM devices and then a variety of other devices. In Europe, the Nokia plantform is more common with WM coming in second.)  (Before I go further, I do plan to purchase a BlackBerry Bold to evaluate as my next productivity platform, but that's a post for another day.)

Enter Lotus Traveler

Last week, Nokia and IBM announced support for a number of Nokia's S60-based mobile phones, extending the reach of Lotus Notes to millions of users of Nokia devices that use the Nokia S60 3rd Edition platform. According announcements and blog posts, in excess of 80 million people - the number of Nokia S60 3rd Edition devices shipped globally - will soon be able to connect to corporate email accounts on a Lotus Domino Server. The glue that makes this possible is Traveler, a product that launched earlier this year. The Lotus Traveler software provides real time access to email, calendar, address book, journal and to-dos and the newly added support for the Nokia platform is coming next month.

I think IBM's making a smart move to extend the reach of Lotus Notes to a variety of platforms. For years, I've used and recommended CommonTime mNotes and Sybase iAnywhere. If you have a Windows Mobile or Palm device, CommonTime simply works. Sybase has extensive device support however, my experience is that they are making it increasingly for clients to buy their products. (I guess they are doing really well and do not want my client's business.) So, I welcome the announcement of Traveler. I think it's great to have a native Notes solution to recommend as well.

How well will Lotus Traveler handle Task Management?

I have no doubt that the Lotus team will do a good job with sync to the Nokia platform, and I have read enthusiastic reviews from users who are using Traveler on their Windows Mobile devices. What remains to be seen, is how well Traveler handles task management. This is something that Lotus and other vendors historically haven't done very well. The IBM Web site for Traveler shows a thumbnail for a task list but there are no screen shots of any task lists so I cannot tell how well they have been implemented. Since I have yet to install Traveler, myself, I cannot comment on how well  Traveler handles task management, either on Windows Mobile or on the Nokia Platform. If you are using Traveler for task management on either of these platforms, I'd like to hear from you with your thoughts.

Discussion/Comments (1):

Justyn Roberts (http://mobilemeanderings.wordpress.com): 11/24/2008 11:55:48 PM
Will Traveler make getting things done with Notes easy?

Both Traveler and mSuite/mNotes make a point of interacting with the on device applications.My feeling is this is a double edged sword in the fact that the whole product feels more integrated, but at the cost of having to live with the limitations of the OS UI.Having worked for CommonTime I understand how difficult product management's job is with these apps, as they are possibly too 'distilled' for todays workforce who want to work effectively from their mobile device.

However this being said,as you mentioned there might be a market for a 3rd party to develop an application that uses the standard task database but presents in a more intuitive manner.I have been working with many small Nordic companies who focus on series 60 development, and as the stronghold of Nokia, I would expect that there will be some treasure, somewhere :)

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