iPhone + Lotus Notes = Opportunity + Annoyance

Summary:Maybe you saw the IBM announcement or the NY Times blog posting on it. iPhone now can run iNotes, a lightweight application for access to Lotus Notes email, calendaring, and contacts.

Maybe you saw the IBM announcement or the NY Times blog posting on it. iPhone now can run iNotes, a lightweight application for access to Lotus Notes email, calendaring, and contacts.

But why the complex equation? Let me break it down for you:

  • iPhone. IBM Lotus has shipped an iPhone app (available in the Apple AppStore) that gives Lotus Notes users on-the-go access to email, calendars, and contacts. Why does this matter, you say? After all, didn't Apple do this for Exchange back in June?

Well, yes, they did. Apple did it. And that's the point. This time around, it's IBM that did it -- a third-party. And that is the crux of the matter: An independent company can extend the value of iPhone by building a mobile Internet application. Nothing new there; after all the AppStore has a gazillion apps already. That's the iPhone part of the equation.

  • + Lotus Notes. This part of the equation should start to attract the interest of information and knowledge management professionals on the Notes platform (about 40% of our enterprise customers run Notes, and they are the biggest companies and organizations).

IBM has no axe to grind with any mobile device (unlike Microsoft, who is required to promote Windows Mobile devices -- though we've seen a lot of iPhones on the Redmond campus lately). Therefore, it can afford to be device agnostic. The Armonk software giant has long supported BlackBerry, Nokia, and Windows Mobile devices. It now supports iPhone.

  • = Opportunity. It's an opportunity for information workers to get what they want on the devices they want to run. Our survey of 60,000 consumers (34,000 of which have jobs) shows that iPhone owners are a breed apart: more affluent, more enthusiastic about technology, and get this, they are 50% more likely than other mobile owners to "tell their friends about products that interest them" (61% of iPhone owners agree, whereas only 39% of mobile owners do).

In other words, these iPhone owners are change agents. They see a benefit and want to go for it. We call this behavior of employee-led adoption "Technology Populism," and it's a force majeure. Here's one cool situation we heard from a client: demand for iPhone is so high that IT put up a wiki to encourage iPhone opportunists to comment on problems and solutions for iPhone in the enterprise. It's a "very active" wiki with 70 active participants. And this after only a month.

  • + Annoyance. It's an annoyance today for IT to support iPhones. While iPhone is a great application platform, it doesn't have the end-to-end system that BlackBerry alone can provide. While we're big fans of the BlackBerry for messaging (and think that the company is poised to mainstream content apps like SharePoint access and collaboration apps like training and web conferencing), the iPhone has huge developer interest. And in our experience, the platform that attracts the most developers wins.

And that's an annoyance for IT. (Sigh.) But our information and management professionals -- Rick, Giselle, Henry, and Patty -- will have to get used to the pressure and turn around to apply it to Apple to provide support or at least third-party options to manage those iPhone devices. They're here to stay.

Topics: IBM, Collaboration, Enterprise Software, iPhone, Mobility, Software

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