We are damn stupid or hindsight is 20/20

We as partners are always quick in pointing fingers towards Boston, when talking about the declining market share of Notes. Lately I just thought a while about things, what the partners could have done, to prevent this. Right, we could not do anything about the message IBMers were shouting to the world 10 years ago, everything will be Websphere or Workplace and mail is dead anyway. But right before that, we had the means and the tools (most of them at least and the rest the clever guys could have made up) to prevent a large part of the decline and make lots of money on the way.
On my table lies a book named „GROUPWARE, Communication, Collaboration and Coordination“. It talks about messaging, leveraging shared databases, the message store and the WWW as a collaboration tool. About the same what we are talking about today, except that the word „social“ is missing. That book was published by the Lotus Development Corp. in 1995. You can take that book and use it for consultant work today. Most companies still don’t get it, how to use email effectively, on the contrary, it is worse today, because every single fart of (non-)information today is send by email, just to be able to say „but I sent you an email about it“. It is used to cover the backs of millions of employees, whose managers still think in terms of slavery (and that is just one example).
Since my first day as a Notes developer I always thought, with Notes, I could do a very sexy mail client that fits my needs perfectly. I slowly started adding views and buttons here and there, nothing fancy, some color there but I never touched the whole appearance of it. I should have. Damn it, we all should have. We should have thrown the standard mail template out and make our own. One that fits specific business needs. One that can handle more than one email address (hell, we still don’t have that, I mean without changing the environment). One that can handle more than one domain. One that does project management at the same time. One that looks cool. One that links discussion dbs, teamrooms or CRM and CMS together. A very simple one, like NotesBuddy (somebody still has copy of it? I would like to try something), the possibilities would have been endless.
But since the darn mail template was so incredible complicated to understand (don’t even think about documentation) and in some versions we couldn’t even save changes because there was an error in the code somewhere, We didn’t do it. We all just relied on IBM bringing new features every now and than, which were often just new coats of paint or not important to the average user at all.
If we had taken mail out of the inbox and put it were it belongs, in project management applications and CRMs, we could have locked the customer in for a long time, because none of the competitors was able to integrate as we were. Yes, yes, I know, „locked in“ is bad for the customer but it’s very good for the seller. And since we are good guys, I wouldn’t even have a bad conscience and because we would have delivered additional value. And customers couldn’t tell Notes is ugly, only your or my client would have been ugly and they would have the freedom of choice. Which isn’t a bad thing, even if you are locked in on a platform. Which you are anyway in one way or the other and most people just do not care about it.
Or we just didn’t do it, because we did not get it either? Looks like, does it?

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