Notes on Notes

I wrote Notes on Notes a while back for a company that will remain nameless. The gist of the document was that Lotus Notes, while it may be a fine piece of groupware, was being used primarily for email within the organization. And Notes could be the world’s worst email client.
I mailed this rant to the company CIO, and he told me: (1) he couldn’t defend Notes as an email client, (2) lots of users were perfectly happy with Notes, (3) it was still being used for groupware applications, (4) his top priority was “customer-facing” applications, and (5) if he started to move away from Notes, he’d lose all the skilled Notes techies who were keeping the system running.
This seems reasonable, until you consider that Notes servers also support POP clients. That means that their employees could use any POP client if they wanted to, or keep using Notes if they were perfectly happy.
Meanwhile, inside the IT, department, they’re using POP.
What’s really going on here? It goes beyond the practical rationalizations cited by the CIO. It’s about the cost of support. Support is a real cost, of course. But the company is full of power users who are using email to create the company’s product and to sell it. And the IT department doesn’t want to support the best tool for the job. They prefer the cheapest possible tool for the IT department. And the ultimate rationalization is that email isn’t a customer-facing application.

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