Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Turning the email feature race on its head

When it comes to new releases of software, as a technology geek, I'm used to looking for what cool new features a new piece of software offers us.  Sometimes the business benefit takes the back seat initially to what is cool. 

So, when I first learned the details of the features of LotusLive iNotes, my initial reaction was a bit of a let down.  "What, you mean this doesn't even have the same capabilities of iNotes deployed on-premises?"  Well, no, it's not even based on Domino.  It is the technology Lotus acquired when they purchased Outblaze.

OK, so what do you get?  Surely IBM wouldn't buy less capable technology than what it had already possessed?  Well, actually, yes they would.  LotusLive iNotes is a very easy to use web-mail and personal calendaring solution.  It has a very basic feature set for mail,which you can experience yourself by signing up for a trial

But why would a company look to a solution with fewer bells and whistles than standard Domino or Exchange?

Well, take a look at the price point.  $36 a user a YEAR, or $24 a user a YEAR for a company that owns other Lotus licenses.  You will not find a more competitive price point. But have times really become so tight that we have to throw out all the capabilities of our rich collaboration environments?  For some companies in these in economic times, the answer is yes.  But IBM is not really targeting the wholesale displacement of on-premise email environments with the LotusLive iNotes offering.  Rather, IBM wants you to look at all of those so-called "boundary" or "task" workers that have very basic email needs and are actually over-served by a full client on their desktops. 

My wife is actually a perfect example of this type of worker.  She is a community health nurse.  Her work day life does not revolve around email and scheduling meetings with coworkers.  She is in the field during the day at her patients' homes, and she only checks emails for communication from her employer.  Frankly, email is a pain for her because it isn't available to her except when she is in the office.

LotusLive iNotes is perfect for these types of users in your organization.  At $24 a user, that's less than even the annual license subscription costs of a Lotus Notes license.  When you look at the total cost of ownership for an average on-premise email user, the savings in switching to LotusLive iNotes add up quickly.

Many organizations don't know what their actual total cost of ownership is per user for their on-premise email usage.  For that reason, Ted Schadler from Forrester Research recently put together the cost model below which shows the monthly cost per user, and breaks it apart into different user types.

Calculating the fully loaded costs of corporate email: It's bigger than you think, Ted Schadler,

So the average annual fully loaded cost of email for an Occasional User, the true target for LotusLive iNotes, is $249.96.  Subtract the $24 a user LotusLive iNotes fee from that, and you have an average savings of $225.96 per user.  Assume that in an average 1,000 person company, 30% of users (300) are occasional users.  That would total $67,788 in savings annually by moving those users to LotusLive iNotes.  Obviously, mileage will vary, but the savings are potentially significant enough that it is worth your time examining the user population in your organization to find out the size of the "Occasional User" community.

But clearly you don't want to have two islands of email users.  That's the beauty of the "hybrid" model IBM is encouraging here.  Keep your premise deployment for your executives and information workers, move the occasional users to the cloud, and integrate the two environments.  With LotusLive iNotes, you can integrate your two environments, allowing for:
  • integrated corporate directory 
  • single-sign-on for LotusLive iNotes users
  • shared mail domain
  • even integration with your existing archiving or other dlp systems deployed at your location
 After getting over the initial feature-shock, I've really come to appreciate this approach by IBM.  One size never fits all, and LotusLive iNotes has a clear purpose and does what it is intended to do well, all while providing significant savings to an organization.  How many more IT projects could you fund with the savings you'd achieve?

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