Is Lotus Notes the Betamax of Email Clients?

Remember how Betamax died a death despite being a better product? I worked as a TV transmission engineer for a year once and I probably don’t need to tell you that Digital Betacam (or digi-Beta as it’s known in the trade) has enjoyed huge popularity among professionals over the years.

Remember how Betamax died a death despite being a better product? I worked as a TV transmission engineer for a year once and I probably don’t need to tell you that Digital Betacam (or digi-Beta as it’s known in the trade) has enjoyed huge popularity among professionals over the years. But as we know, VHS won the consumer war and the rest is history.

As anyone who has used Lotus Notes will know, it’s kind of not the most intuitive product ever built. It’s pared down and too simplistic in its presentation for some. But many would argue that it beats Outlook into a corner in terms of its general power and wider functionality in areas such as social collaboration and overall scalability.

Why then does Outlook remain so popular? Well we know the answer to that. In fact, I have actually just got hold of a copy of Microsoft Office Ultimate and Outlook comes with ‘Business Contact Manager’, which as it will be new to me I will look at with interest. Interesting that I should mention collaboration perhaps, as this high-end version of Outlook is billed the ‘Ultimate Tool for Teams’.

Carrying the collaboration theme one step further forward, open source enterprise content management (ECM) company Alfresco is using the Lotusphere even in Orlando this week to talk about its technical preview of its Content Services product for Lotus social collaboration products.

Did I hear a so what? Did I also hear a so what and Ya-Boo-Sucks I’m not in Florida in January so I really don’t care? OK me too, but let’s press on.

So does Lotus Notes have more power and is it the Betamax of email clients sitting quietly unloved in a thousand dusty corporate IT department corners?

Integrating an open source ECM system such as Alfresco with the social collaboration capabilities found in IBM Lotus Quickr, Lotus Notes, Lotus Connections and WebSphere Portal is, allegedly, the cat’s whiskers if you want to allow users to know that they are working with the latest version of a document regardless of the tool they are using.

This technology, if you can excuse the ‘industry-speak’ as I think you will hear more about this terminology as people do start to use tools other than Outlook, is described as integrated collaborative content management. I’m not sure if we’re quite at the acronym stage and about to start hearing about ICCM (I Googled it and got the International Committee for the Conservation of Mosaics), but it might happen soon.

Alfresco’s website says that, “Unlike Microsoft SharePoint, Alfresco Content Services for Lotus delivers an economical, scalable and open platform while allowing flexible access for programmers to extend the integration from Lotus Notes, Domino, XPage and Portal applications using a wide choice of languages, APIs, protocols and services.”

Don’t get me wrong though, Alfresco is not about to start championing the sole use of Notes and is aiming to provide integration with Microsoft tools. The Alfresco-Lotus integration includes an implementation of the SharePoint protocol. This provides users with access from Microsoft Office, while giving companies the freedom of choice in their IT architecture.

“Organisations will experience the best of both worlds – providing workers with easy-to-use content management and collaboration tools that integrate with Microsoft Office while lowering overall IT costs and increasing return on existing investments,” says Alfresco.

Betamax and Lotus Notes may not be a fair comparison. But I saw a glimmer of related relevance and blogged thusly. If I’m off track then tell me why dear readers.