Evernote Business chief: 'This is not a zero-sum game'

Summary:Old habits die hard -- even in the tech industry, which is constantly measured by the pace of innovation. The head of Evernote Business explains how the cloud is curbing those habits for good.

"Business users are consumers also," reminded McGeachie, arguing that at Evernote, "We think of all of those people as people -- not as objects or money sitting on the table."

"This is not a zero-sum game. There will always be areas of overlap between different applications," McGeachie replied. "I think people are comfortable choosing among an arrays of what they know best."

But the growth of those app stores has also opened the flood gates, giving way to an increasingly crowded market for cloud-based storage, sharing, and collaboration apps. Even Evernote and Salesforce.com have competing abilities. Just one demonstration is Salesforce's recent revamp of its file creation and storage service Salesforce Files, previously known as Chatterbox.

Nevertheless, McGeachie doesn't seem worried about this.

"This is not a zero-sum game. There will always be areas of overlap between different applications," McGeachie replied. "I think people are comfortable choosing among an arrays of what they know best."

A popular trend that has emerged hand-in-hand with cloud computing has been a rise in establishing (or at least heavily promoting) third-party integrations. Many cloud providers will argue they are trying to offer their customers as much flexibility and options as possible -- to a breaking point in which a plethora of choices will inevitably fluster customers.

Because of these deals flying all over the place, a lot of companies appear to be reluctant about calling out competitors directly. 

Even when Amazon Web Services introduced its new virtualization and data analytics solutions at re:Invent last week, the cloud giant didn't name names, but it was obvious to even casual observers of this field that the Seattle-headquartered operation had folks like IBM, VMware and maybe even Salesforce in the cross-hairs.

But for cloud software providers, hardware actually tops the list as the top threat still.

Executives at cloud storage businesses like Dropbox and Box usually reply that it's about convincing users why their platform trumps USB drives.

At Evernote, McGeachie specified, "We're competing against inertia." He translated that to mean e-mail. 

"The scanner is great because you can feed all this stuff in there. People are just drowning in paper," McGeachie quipped.

"The challenge is to open people's eyes to leverage information coming across their desks," McGeachie said, lamenting it can be difficult for people to change their habits, such as e-mailing themselves documents. 

Evernote's task, he continued, has been to make the productivity app as simple and accessible enough to get them started with it -- rather than letting pieces of paper accumulate into mountains on desks for scanning later.

"The status quo often feels like a poor experience, but they're often sure how to solve it," McGeachie remarked. "That's why we invest so much of our marketing resources and time in user stories. We talk all about how people use Evernote as journalists, architects, and engineers."

Nevertheless, Evernote seems realistic that it's going to be a long time before people abandon these pesky habits and old ways. To help move things along, the Redwood City, Calif.-based company has been forming third-party partnerships of its own -- with hardware, design and retail companies -- to produce a suite of physical productivity goods such as a petite scanner ready for multiple files at once as well as a high-end stylus.

"The scanner is great because you can feed all this stuff in there. People are just drowning in paper," McGeachie quipped.

All of these items, from digital to real-world objects, are designed and released with a specific strategy in mind: eliminating the labor process around tools and enabling people to use their brains for more interesting purposes.

"You're paying people a decent amount of money to think," McGeachie asserted. "You're freeing them to work they way they want and be happy doing what they're doing. That will make them more productive."

Topics: Cloud, Apps, Collaboration, Enterprise 2.0, Enterprise Software

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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