Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lotus Notes 8 on my Mac helps me collaborate without email!

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Weird, huh? How can a mail client help me collaborate without email ? That's the magic of composite applications!

First, a little history. When I joined IBM 6+ years ago, my goal was to always have a "no-scroll inbox" meaning that the inbox within my mail client (i.e. Lotus Notes) could not scroll (even when the application was maximized). I had to read an email and file it immediately into its proper folder (or tag it and archive it if I'm using my personal email over at Gmail).

Anyway, I considered myself pretty successful at that project up until May of this year. With Lotus Connections v2 out the door and all the buzz/press generated after the Microsoft smackdown at Enterprise 2.0, I got too many emails in too little time. Today, I'm finally at that point again. My inbox (with Lotus Notes fully maximized) doesn't scroll!!

I'm looking to follow the footsteps of Luis Suarez and his quest to stop using email. Unlike my counterpart in Spain (or in the Netherlands.. I never know where he is), I'm taking a slightly different approach to this "no email" experiment: I'm not educating people to collaborate with me in a certain way. Instead, I wanted to see if people would follow me.

Unfortunately, I wasn't as smart as my counterpart in Spain. It didn't occur to me to keep hard data on the number of emails I receive on a weekly basis. I can tell you this, however, my email traffic has significantly decreased since I've started using social software, specifically blogs and social bookmarking. I remember when I used to get 100+ emails a day including ~30 over the weekend, and dozens over lunch . 3 months ago I was down to about 35 emails a day. Today, I just got 13 emails and 0 during lunch!! So it's definitely working... social software really does help me replace email!!

To me, it's clear that people know how to get my intellectual capital (mostly through my blogs and bookmarks) and as I keep sharing my success stories, they follow me, without me formerly educating them (although you may argue that I'm educating them through my blog...)

Today, I mostly depend on two main applications: a Feed Reader (NetNewsWire) and my mail client (Lotus Notes v8.5 -- the public beta). My feed reader is my new inbox. Just like my good friend Mr. Suarez, I love the feed reader because I can easily choose what I want to read and what's important to me at any given time. If, after a while, a thread gets boring or doesn't provide any value, I can unsubscribe and off I go. In the meantime, I'm "as smart" as the other person I'm subscribing to, just a couple of minutes later (like my friend Laurisa Rodriguez says).

So, since I'm barely using email, what's the purpose of using an email client? Well, it's for everything else! Lotus Notes 8 is my:

  • Instant messaging client (including for my Gtalk, Yahoo! and AOL friends)
  • Productivity suite (Word processor, Presentation editor, and spreadsheet via the embedded Lotus Symphony)
  • Twitter client (by using a 3rd party plugin)
  • Calendar
  • Address Book
  • Lotus Connections Activities client
  • Connection to fellow community members via the Lotus Connections Communities and Broadcast Suite plug-in
  • Access to my Quickr libraries

Today, I installed 3 very useful plug-ins:

  1. Cisco Unified Messaging - which lets me visualize my voicemail and provides phone awareness (I can literally see if someone has their phone off the hook or is available for a quick call)
  2. BeeAware - Which lets me change my Beehive status
  3. BeeFriend - which lets me easily add my Sametime contacts as friends in Beehive
The best thing about Lotus Notes, in my opinion, is its awesome composite application framework. I can easily add plug-ins (and choose from the thousands that already exist). And as I keep adding plug-ins, I feel that I'll be more and more productive, and my email count will continue to decrease. I believe that this really helps me escape mail jail and transition smoothly to social software. Oh, and this is all from my Mac -- I'm so productive!!
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