Was Ed Brill’s Session This Empty?

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Hardly. You might notice from the shot that Ed’s not at the podium; this was taken from the overflow room where they piped in the deck and the mic from the actual session when his presentation proved so popular that they ran out of room in SWH III. Apparently the combination of Ed’s blog and the content got a lot of people (myself included) out of bed for the first session of the day.

Lots of interesting points made by Ed and his copresenter Libby, among them “Why Notes gets blamed for things that aren’t its fault.” Ed and Libby did a good job addressing how to respond to this question, but not – in my mind – why this attitude is so prevalent.

The best point for me, however, came from the first person to take the mic in Q&A, who asked why Notes does not have a good tutorial available? Training, he went on, was the biggest single factor in TCO – with offices all over AsiaPac, brown bag lunch training sessions aren’t exactly an option.

I find this interesting not because of the issue itself – training is a concern with many enterprise applications – but because of the context. Notes, he said, needed training, particularly for Outlook users. But Outlook didn’t suffer from the same issue – as I captured it, he said “[his users] all know how to use Outlook they tell me because they use it at home.”

That’s a strong validation of the point that I raised here; namely that the lack of any consumer presence can and does hurt IBM in a variety of areas, Notes being exhibit A.

Notes for Consumers anyone?


  1. I wondered why we didn't meet 🙁

    Didn't even know the room had overflowed — there were still a few seats upfront, oh well.

    We tried the consumer version of Notes play a few years ago in Germany, and it was a total failure. There are a lot of reasons why IBM remains a business-only experience, and that is a good thing.

    If you heard Libby prompt me to tell it, I talk about the distinction between technology used in the home and the office all the time. Keys vs. swipecards was the example of the day. In the instant case, the real issue is — yeah, they use Outlook at home, but do they really? Do they use all the calendaring and scheduling features? Public folders? All the "corporate mode" things are different about Outlook. If you had attended my -other- presentation, you would have really heard me rail on this issue.

    There are plenty of vendors in every industry that sell B2B only and are successful. Consumer presence isn't the way to increase our market (profitably at any rate).

  2. yes, my schedule was brutish and short, alas, so we weren't able to connect. i'm through chitown pretty regularly tho, so maybe we'll be able to work something out.

    as for the consumer version of Notes, i was being a bit tongue in cheek there – as i think that's a poor idea. Thunderbird's available for free, so i don't know anyone who'd recommend even a lighter weight version of Notes any time soon.

    and i do accept the pushback on the percentage of functionality Outlook users use, but i'd still argue that any level of familiarity – even simply with the way the UI looks and feels – is an advantage in training scenarios. so while new users may have to be trained on shared Calendars and the like, it's still a less intimidating experience than a comparable Notes training session is.

    i've had trouble in the past just trying to explain to corporate users what replicate means, after all.

    so while Notes the client may not be the ideal touchpoint for consumers, i think it'd be a good idea for IBM to reach consumers via webmail products even indirectly, as through ISPs or message hosting providers.

    there are a number of different ways and means to touch customers, you just have to be creative. and i do think it's important that you guys do so sooner rather than later.

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