I don’t normally agree to review software. However, IBM is a sponsor of my blog, they have been a great partner in helping grow my reach, and they have been instrumental in helping me gain access to some really smart marketing folks that I wanted to interview. (Hat tip to the wonderful folks at Digital Influence Group.) So, when I was asked if I would be interested in gaining early access to IBMNotes and Domino 9.0 Social Edition, providing feedback, and even getting paid a dead president or two for giving my unvarnished appraisal of the new software, I said “Hell yeah! Those beers aren’t going to pay for themselves.”
Kidding aside, I was interested because this was IBM’s foray into enterprise office software that was designed to effectively integrate with social. Now the Lotus name has been around a long time, but with this new release the brand has been retired. This move to incorporate it under the IBM brand umbrella signals this significant shift in approach to their design.
Absolutely No Excuse
The new release has been re-envisioned from the ground up to allow businesses who have been reluctant to move to a more social business model. They can now make the move with a trusted vendor their IT departments are already using. Before this release I was fond of giving companies who have been slow to embrace social a hard time. Now they have absolutely no excuse. This is a high-trust environment that will help guide customers to naturally start adopting social into their work-flow, and result in improved productivity and communications company-wide.
The user interface is clean and simple, and each section of the product uses the same look and feel. So, the user experiences a consistent looking environment. I understand that earlier versions had different looking modules, which sounds confusing. This attention to detail is important to the whole thinking of the platform.
A Complete Work Attention Dashboard
This new version aims to be a complete work attention dashboard. While there are a number of tools, the starting place is the email inbox, and where user can quickly share and connect to other media for powerful collaboration. The payoff for all this integration is productivity. A worker can complete all their work in the same environment without having to switch between other tools.
On top of this is the ability to fully support BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). They support mobile and tablet devices that use iOS and Android, but now they’ve added support for Microsoft Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry 10. So, if you want to switch from desktop, to tablet or mobile phone, you can. You have the ability to access and work with your documents everywhere, and likewise collaborate with colleagues regardless of where you, or they, are.
The First Social Mail Experience
One of the people I have met via IBM is the uber smart Ed Brill, Director, IBM Mobile Enterprise Marketing. There have been a lot of cooks baking this new version, and Ed has been one of them. He notes something I think is key to this release: “This release delivers the first social mail experience out to the market, and adopts some important concepts on how to move collaboration forward and integrate it into social.” On top of this he said is the embedded application experiences. Customers can access the applications they use all the time with a single click. So, they do not have to leave the context of their mail environment.
Another thing that impressed me was the massive ability to customize it to meet any organization’s information and regulatory needs. While the enabling technology is somewhat beyond my pay grade, I did see copious examples of how the customer could do three crucial things directly inside IBM’s Notes and Domino 9.0 Social Edition:
- Easily integrate existing legacy software
- Build new software components within the platform for additional functionality
- Embed third-party software
Well, that’s my two cents. I liked what I saw, but sharing all this has made me thirsty. Now, I’m going to go have a beer. ;-)