A few weeks ago, the Twitterati noticed that a netcast called "This Week in Technology" was taunting Howard Stern over his use of Lotus Notes.  Stern has been a long-time Lotus technology customer, but TWiT-casters Leo Laporte, Jeff Jarvis, and Gina Trapani had a nice laugh over it.  Well, Howard responded on-air and took Jeff Jarvis to task.  Howard invited IBM Lotus Vice President Jeff Schick onto his show to discuss why Howard has made the right choice, and Jeff offered to Jeff Jarvis to check out how Howard uses Lotus technologies.

Jeff Jarvis today blogs what he learned:

Now as for Lotus: In their office, Jeff Schick and a colleague generously spent a few hours giving me a tour of what they can do. I'll concede: It's impressive. What impressed me is that IBM integrated the functions of the collaborative, social internet -- email, Twitter, wikis, LinkedIn, Facebook, Facebook Connect, directories, blogs, calendars, Skype, bookmarks, tagging -- in a way that I wish they would all interroperate: click on a name and get everything about them (contact, place, tags, bookmarks); pull together people in calls or calendars just by dragging them; see how people are sharing your documents; see how people are connected....

Only thing is, IBM had to essentially recreate the internet and all these functions to do that, both so they could integrate it all and so that it could operate behind corporate firewalls. We internet snobs make fun of that, but I understand why they do that. But as we talk about how our internet should operate -- how open standards for identity, for example, should work -- the irony is that we could look at the interlocked IBM platforms to see the promise of it. It's closed, for a reason, but it shows what an open structure would look like if it operated on truly open standards. I wonder whether there's an opportunity for IBM to offer these functions at a retail level.

So thanks to Jeff Schick, I got to see Stern's technology and IBM's and get onto the show and so I'll take back my snickers about Notes, most of them.
Score one for the good guys.  If you've ever wondered the power of a good demo, there's the answer.  I wonder if the TWiT team will start another sub netcast to discuss "This Week in Lotus"?
(Thanks, Ian)

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  1. 1  Jeff Jarvis http://buzzmachine.com |

    That may be going a *bit* too far....

  1. 2  David (The Notes Guy in Seattle)  |

    Way cool, Ed. I mentioned Notes could really use a celebrity PR champion. Stern's your man! I think he represents the product well too - intelligent, a bit rogue, not one to just follow the crowd and blend in and is more successful because of it.

    Keep the momentum going.

  1. 3  Brian  |

    Awesome. I'm a big fan of Stern and Leo. I'm waiting for the admin job for stern.

  1. 4  Eric Mack http://www.EricMackOnline.com |

    Ed, thanks for brining the pieces of this story toether. I'm not a Stern listener so I only caught the story on the periphery. Great to hear people willing to talk about what they use.

    Reminds me of a similar situation with David Allen years ago when I was his CTO. Someone started beating up on David for using Outlook and asking how David could be so productive with Lotus Notes. I showed him exactly ow David used Lotus Notes. I dare say I gave the guy a new Outlook. End of that discussion.

    From my work with eProductivity, I now have a glimpse into thousands of organizations in 50 countries and I can sayu that some of the best and brightest people and organizations in the world use Lotus softare to get things done. Now, we need a way to showcase stories, as you have done, in a way that the world can read and learn from the experience of others.

    Keep up the good work!

  1. 5  Bruce Elgort http://elguji.com |

    Nice! Now lets get Leo to see the same demo. I look forward to hearing Jeff talk about Notes on the next TWIG.

  1. 6  Gregg Eldred http://www.ns-tech.com/blog/geldred.nsf |

    After reviewing all of the links (thanks, Ed), it seems that people are stuck in the past. "We used Lotus at..." I think these people have no idea, nor do they care, that as the years have gone by IBM Lotus has changed, upgraded, incorporated some additional tools and functions. Since they aren't familiar with the product, or don't see any sort of press/marketing/blogs/whatever, it must still be like I remember it back in the day. And the three on TWIT are not clueless; they are well respected, influential people. And yet, they do not know about IBM Lotus. That saddens me. Is there a disconnect somewhere? I think that the balanced, insightful blog post from Jeff Jarvis will far to promote IBM Lotus. Farther than Howard talking about it on air (and I *really* like those days when he does that).

  1. 7  Chris Knoblock  |

    This continues to build on the ever exiting misconception of Notes as a technology. My question is what is IBM doing to correct this? In my experience, why do people hate Notes? (yes I said hate) Because they are used to Outlook. Why not give Notes away for free personal use as an e-mail(IMAP/POP/SMTP) client and perhaps people will see that it is more than that. They could see that it is really a personal information platform that offers the ability to digest all information on the web into a single client. Perhaps this could spur plug-in development for Notes into the mainstream. IBM got the right idea for the Designer as MS already offers a free IDE (VS Express Editions), now they need to go the extra mile and get Notes out to the masses. Misconception can be the biggest killer of technology...

  1. 8  Oliver Schulze http://tinymailto.com/oliversl |

    @6 You have a point. Many people(read Outlook evangelist) have stopped using Lotus in the 5, 6 o 7 era. They all think Lotus has the same GUI, the same features, etc. Maybe a "Lotus Knows" ad could be more like the iPhone ads, with screenshots/videos of actual features, showing a totally different client GUI.

    The positive part is that Stern pressed about "is the most secure" feature, which is right BTW.

  1. 9  Nathan T. Freeman http://nathan.lotus911.com |

    Well, you walked into that one, Ed. Here comes the "IBM marketing sucks" meme. :-)

  1. 10  SMU Cox MBA http://www.cox.smu.edu |

    I think that everyone snickered about Lotus notes for a while because it lacked the features and functionality of Outlook. Note that I said "for a while". IBM never gets left in the dust for long and IMHO, they've caught up and then some.

    Unless you've used it recently, I don't think that most people realize how feature intensive that it is.

  1. 11  David (The Notes Guy in Seattle)  |

    They often think Notes today is much like Notes of yesterday because Outlook today is much the same as Outlook of yesterday. They aren't accustomed to UI improvements as the product matures and certainly aren't expecting such a dramatic change as was the focus of Notes 8.x. They all quit using Notes before then.

    A warning here: I know many people at larger corporations that are currently using Notes and they say the same things Leo, Jeff and Gina said. Not surprising since the people I'm talking about are still using... R6.5 ... and didn't even know 8.5 exists, much less any knowledge of what it does.

    I think those administrators are partly to blame for the bad rap on Notes because they are not keeping their users on the current software. Notes 6.5 is what, 5 years old?! If you can't upgrade your users at least once every 2 or 3 years, shame on you. You deserve to have to use Outlook!

  1. 12  Ed Brill http://www.edbrill.com |

    @7 we've discussed this thought countless times - use of POP/IMAP is declining dramatically in the consumer space and it's not my best foot forward. We are looking at other options, making Designer free was, as you say, a step in the right direction.

  1. 13  tonyo  |

    I still think Dennis leary was a better spokesmodel for Notes, But then again there's probably a tie between cuss word /hour between the both of them. :)

  1. 14  Nelson Morris  |

    A flavor of Notes as a collaboration client will update the old "give a consumer email client" theme. If folks had something to tweet, Facebook, foursquare update based on Notes they would see it in action. Barring that, how do you get people to see Notes in action? We all have stories of airplane conversations of people spying Notes 8 on one's laptop and that sparking a conversation. We certainly don't need to make a trip to Howard Stern's studio to see it in action. We already see what happens when something is free that folks can use, like Symphony.

  1. 15  Mike Robinson http://www.invcs.com |

    Well that was fun I'm sure.

    Other than the "I use Lotus" line in the old HBO series dead like me that was the only other entertainment reference.

    Maybe Notes can do a product placement in some tv or movie. Maybe even running on a Mac (since Macs show up as just about the computer of choice in most TV and Movies. Would be nice if "CSI [whatever city]" used notes to collab ;)

  1. 16  Alan Lepofsky http://www.alanlepofsky.net |

    Sorry Mike, but Futurama mentioned Lotus Notes years before Dead Like Me :-)

    { Link }

  1. 17  Mike Robinson http://www.invcs.com |

    Alan, that was funny, you're right! Was that intentional or just happened?

  1. 18  Craig Wiseman http://www.Wiseman.La/cpw |

    @9 Dismissing a fact does not change that fact.

  1. 19  Bill Brown  |

    @15/16 That quote even made it to a C.U.L.T. shirt a number of years ago.

  1. 20  Keith Brooks http://www.vanessabrooks.com |

    Live demo is always impressive, i did one yesterday about c/s and delegation of calendars and it blows people away. Will write it up later today.

  1. 21  Kevin Mort  |

    This is another perfect example of someone Lotus needs to keep happy. Every customer's important but those with a very public voice, even moreso.

    You know if the moment ever comes where he's unhappy with the product he'll be on the air going round & round about it.

    So kudos to IBM for stepping up and defending here.

  1. 22  Andy Donaldson http://blog.macian.net |

    Bababooey! Bababooey!

    Okay, someone had to do it.

    Now that that's out of the way. @21 is right. Howard is VERY particular and vocal about the products he uses, especially when it comes to technology. About a year ago, he was saying how much he liked his BlackBerry Bold but the AT&T service in New York was terrible. He started ripping on AT&T quite a bit. Then he switched over to a Verizon Curve and he talks about it all the time and how good the Verizon service is. Being a long time Stern listener, I've heard Jeff Schick's name come up often on the air. It's good to see that he is still heavily involved with Howard's enterprise because keeping Howard happy will always return good word of mouth. And every time he talks about Lotus, he always mentions how much he loves it.

  1. 23  David (The Notes Guy in Seattle)  |

    @21 & 22. You're right on. In social science terms, Stern provides 3 of the six "Weapons of Influence"

    - Social Proof

    - Authority

    - Liking

    A very good person to have on your side.

  1. 24  Karl-Henry Martinsson http://www.bleedyellow.com/blogs/texasswede |

    @15: They actually did show Notes in CSI (the Las Vegas edition). See { Link }

    @12/14: I wonder how hard it would be to interface to Yahoo Mail, Google Mail, etc through some API. I know there are applications out there that does it, without using POP/IMAP. However, I think many "regular" users still use POP för the mail from their ISP. So I think POP and IMAP should continue to be supported, But to add support for (or bundle plugins) for Twitter, FourSquare, LinkedIn, FaceBook, Myspace, Flickr, Youtube, etc would be a good thing.

    There would them be a "collaboration" client for home users.

    If IBM want to be REALLY cool, add a "Quickr Lite" where the users get say 500 MB or 1 GB free space for files to share with other users (family/friends), similar to Ubuntu One.

  1. 25  Chris Knoblock  |

    @12 Thanks for the response Ed. I understand that the market is changing to more "email services" like GMail that can complicate things.

    At the same time though, what does having Howard Stern "like" Notes mean? What happens when an average consumer hears Howard talking about Notes? They may Google it. If so the top result is a Wikipedia entry about Lotus Notes. Click that and the opening line reads "Lotus Notes is the client side of a client–server, collaborative application developed and sold by IBM Software Group." What does that mean? I can tell you 99% of people I know that are not in a current business environment (and probably 98% of people outside of IT) would have no idea what that means. So now they don't know what it means and they can't get it to see what it's about. Too bad.

  1. 26  Charles Robinson http://www.cubert.net |

    "I wonder whether there's an opportunity for IBM to offer these functions at a retail level."

    Yes please.

  1. 27  Heath Brashier  |

    My co-worker brought up the point that consumer products tend to find their way into the corporate world and I agree with him. I think companies and universities adopting Gmail as their mail client is a clear, recent example of this.

    There needs to be a version of Notes that is free, is in the cloud, and has features that Gmail doesn't possess, such as the integration with "Twitter, wikis, LinkedIn, Facebook, Facebook Connect, directories, blogs, calendars, Skype, bookmarks, tagging..." mentioned above (a person can dream). Get people realizing that your tools are cool and fun to use in their personal lives and they will request it in their work lives. As was already stated by @12, a free POP/IMAP client is not going to cut it in 2010 and beyond.

  1. 28  Brett Hershberger  |

    @27 I swear I just saw the clouds part and heard Angels singing.

  1. 29  Alan Dalziel  |

    @12 - Sorry Ed, but I disagree. POP3 is not dead, just like Notes isn't. The community has called for a retail version of Notes for some time (please note - NOT free!) as it will expose the consumer to the product and as many have said the consumer space drives the corporate one (iPhone, anyone?)

    Saying it's not you best foot forward doesn't explain anything - all it tells me is that IBM does not/will not move to the consumer retail market any time soon, but with no reason not to. It took the PC division sale to Lenovo to move Thinkpads to the retail space, so I guess software sales won't be moving there anytime soon.

    Nathan was right, this has brought the "IBM marketing sucks" meme out, but deservedly so. Talk to Joe Public about email and Outlook is a recognizable product. Mention Lotus Notes and you'll more than likely get a blank stare.

  1. 30  Ed Brill http://www.edbrill.com |

    <a href="{ Link } trends on POP and IMAP</a>

    Alan, I would continue to assert that Outlook as recognizable is a legacy indicator and not a future predictor. I get that the consumer space drives corporate -- Lotus Knows we've invested millions of dollars over the last nine months in Lotus Knows, precisely for that consumer awareness -- but email is not the way to win that mindshare in the future.

    Lotus Symphony is free and used by millions. Isn't that a good way to establish Lotus in the consumer space?

  1. 31  Michael Kobrowski  |


    Email might not be the way to win that mindshare, but a way to be able to manage and sort and deal with the flood of information everybody is receiving through facebook, twitter, chats, gmail, yahoo mail, linked, tripit, etc etc would be.

    to be able to search through it, sort it swiftly, back it up intelligently using a very well working synchronization product - I think a lot of people would pay for a full client that could do that, with widgets, plugins, cloud backup, client that works on Mac or Linux or Windows. Maybe even has a webclient for those on the go times..... I just wonder who makes software who can handle all that.

    Oh wait, Lotus does!!! :)

    You gotta just do it. Retail version. Make it cheap. Have a great/simpe NotesMarket. Symphony alone is nice, but free office software is in the market by OpenOffice and Google. Won't get much mindshare there either.

    You have tons of business partners and developers that would be jumping at the chance to sell those productivity tools and gadgets to small business/home productivity users.

    What the heck is the hold up? :)

  1. 32  Henning Heinz  |

    I am yet to meet someone that uses Symphony and not have Notes on his desktop. I also have not seen a company having deployed QuickR Entry. This does not mean that those do not exist and I am aware of some using the full version.

    Maybe there are millions of users using Symphony but it seems they are as hard to recognise as the millions of Notes users out there for others.

    Howard Stern is 56. I am aware that Lotus Notes is still used in a lot of established companies. Still it seems that the younger generation does not care much about it. I assume the TWiT-casters won't start adopting Lotus Notes, they just understand a bit better why others do.

  1. 33  Craig Boudreaux  |

    Congrats on the Stern recognition. I'm sure that valuable.

    But, the market is excited about and going to "mobile" and "the cloud" and combinations of mobile and cloud.

    Symphony, while a great product, duplicates Office, which is turning into a legacy product, being that it's neither mobile or cloud. (Just as Outlook, POP/IMAP mail)

    Being a free version of Office is great, and you're commoditizing a product that needed it, but it would be much more if it incorporated mobile or cloud aspects. And I don't see how it builds mindshare for Notes. (But then, I didn't see how 'Lotus Knows' built any mindshare for Notes either.)

    I think @27 has it right and that @28 the Angels will sing if that cloud is parted. (I wonder if he intended the pun there. :-)

    Bring these the tools to the consumer space if you want them to grow in the corporate space. Give people a reason to want these at home (or on their phone).

  1. 34  Michael Himes  |

    The Lotus Knows ads should be similar to the iPhone ads because they show the product and what you can do with it. Otherwise people who know Notes will still have the R5 or ND6 UI in their head when they see "Lotus Notes".

  1. 35  John Turnbow http://www.recondite2.com |

    Someone in an earlier post talked about people stuck in the past. So is part of Microsoft's message about "Everyone uses Outlook at home"... I always give the message back - My 80 year old father has not used Outlook in 10 years. My son in the Army (26 yrs old) has NEVER used email outside the Army (inside he has to), my daughter does not use email. IBM has been right on with their messaging... Just not getting out.

  1. 36  Michael Marcavage  |

    we should get Howard Stern to speak at a LotusSphere!!!!

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