Ben Langhinrichs

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September, 2003
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Genii Weblog


Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.


Tue 2 Sep 2003, 10:04 PM
"Why would a company use Outlook for e-mail if they have Lotus Notes loaded on their desktops for applications?"

It has been a few months since we introduced COEX! Links, but I still get asked this question.  As a matter of fact, it was one of the first questions I asked when the product was suggested to me.  Here are some possible answers as I now understand them.  I can only guess that the answers are good, because the product keeps selling and selling, way better than I expected (but I am the pessimist who asked the question first).

1) E-mail client selection is determined more by chance than by choice.

Corporate merger.  This seem to be the most common cause of mixed e-mail and application clients.  If Company A and Company B merge, it is common for their e-mail systems to be merged as well, as it leads to better company integration, no matter which e-mail system "wins".  Applications are a different matter, as most applications are designed by and for a particular group within one company.  There is no inherent need to migrate the application platform, even if the e-mail platform is migrated.

2) Strategic direction is not always a straight line.

Executive decision.  A number of customers and potential customers have cited executive choice as the reason why Outlook is used for e-mail.  Sometimes this is "the executive", meaning the CEO/CTO or whoever makes such decisions.  Sometimes it is a governing board.  No matter who, the effect is that an e-mail decision is dictated to the company.  Unfortunately, or possibly fortunately, for many companies, the strategic direction for applications/groupware is not always the same direction.  Thus, there are companies who need or want Lotus Notes for strategic applications who still use Outlook for e-mail, sometimes even with iNotes for Outlook.

3) Migration is a journey, not a destination.

Migration.  Sometimes, for whatever reason, a complete migration away from Lotus Notes/Domino is planned.  The mail clients will be moved to Outlook or Groupwise or Yahoo mail, and the applications will be moved to J2EE or .NET or something else altogether.  Only problem is, the plan calls for a nine month migration path, if all goes well, and the applications are the last to be converted.  Even the migration of the clients is set to take three months, during which the applications which rely on doclinks (e.g., workflow apps with approvals), might go to a Notes client and might go to an Outlook client.  Yikes!  Sometimes, even a temporary problem is too big to ignore.

So there you have it,  The three big reasons why people wind up with coexistence between Notes applications and non-Notes e-mail, especially Outlook: happenstance, executive choice and transition.  I'm glad we have an answer for these questions, as all three are likely to happen to a lot of companies, whether they want it or not.  The price may seem cheap for any answer at all.

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