Home How Lotus Notes Changed the Collaboration Landscape

How Lotus Notes Changed the Collaboration Landscape

Sheldon Laube has been around tech for decades, holding executive positions at leading consulting firms and working most notably at Price Waterhouse Coopers these last few years as chief innovation officer. I caught up with him this week and recorded a short podcast interview that you listen to here.

I spoke with him about his thoughts about collaboration and social media and how things have changed over the decades with these tools.

PwC, as they call themselves now, has spent some time studying the topic and produced a very well thought out technology forecast . One part of the document is a comparison matrix of the top dozen microblogging/social networking tools that are in use today by enterprises. We have included a copy of the summary table below. While all of the tools offer the ability to follow particular contacts, not all are the same when it comes to privacy controls and filters.
(click to enlarge)

For example, Tibco’s tibbr allow users to follow particular subjects as well as individuals. Some allow you to embed their activity streams or news feeds into other apps, such as Socialcast Reach and SAP StreamWork. Many of the tools work with various app ecosystems, and some products will lend themselves to better integration with one application source than another. Tools such as SAP StreamWork make it possible to augment or cobble together a process or workflow with the help of the social tool itself.

What I found interesting reading through the report (and there is a lot more in there than this matrix, including case studies and interviews with thought leaders), and what prompted my chat with Laube, is how much the process of adopting social media tools inside enterprises has mirrored the adoption and growth of Lotus Notes back in the early 1990s. Back then Notes was a game-changer: prior to that no one had really produced any software to help workgroups collaborate on anything of substance. Laube was the prime mover when he was at Price Waterhouse to buy the first 10,000-seat license ever, and oversaw the growth of Notes there when he was CIO.

The new social media tools are going to have as much of an impact as Notes did in its day, according to Laube. The problem, he said, is that they aren’t oriented toward accomplishing particular tasks, other than staying in touch with your friends and colleagues. “It is easy to miss particular things in your news feed in Facebook, but in a business context that isn’t okay at all,” he said.

I tried to pin Laube down on handicapping the specific enterprise microblogging vendors that are shown above, but he demurred. Instead, he was glad that we can finally think about enterprise collaboration, and likens the past decade to a nuclear winter where “all the energy was sucked out of collaboration” because of the Web and its initial adoption of one-way publishing models. “Most enterprises don’t have an overwhelming need for their employees to be more social, but to collaborate more effectively. Finally, the energy is back in the collaboration space and we are going to see some amazing things happening.”

Do you recall using Notes? I’d be interested in your own thoughts on how collaboration across the enterprise then and now are different and the same.

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