Evernote For Business: End Of Butt-Ugly Software? - InformationWeek

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12/3/2012
05:09 PM
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Evernote For Business: End Of Butt-Ugly Software?

Evernote Business lets an organization deploy and manage the Evernote application on behalf of employees, extending information discoverability and sharing company-wide.

Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, maker of the popular cloud-based personal productivity software for consumers, thinks enterprise software is "butt ugly." Evernote Business, announced Tuesday, offers a glimpse of what Libin thinks business users should expect: "beautiful experiences at work."

Evernote Business lets an organization deploy and manage the Evernote application on behalf of employees, extending information "discoverability" and sharing company-wide. The software includes Business Notebooks, collections of Evernote entries along topical lines, which can now be shared with co-workers; and the Business Library, which includes Business Notebooks and centralized administrative and company communications.

Evernote Business also adds Related Notes to the user interface. This feature digs into a company's Evernote trove, exposing information in a contextual way, depending on what the user is working on.

Administrators create the Business Library, which centralizes select information from all company users. Sharing and collaborating, Libin said, is much more natural now. "Every time you interact with Evernote, we take every opportunity to show you relevant things," he said. For example, when you search inside Evernote, it lists your notes and those shared with co-workers or stored in the Business Library.

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But it also works when you're not searching. These Related Notes come from any Notebook the user has joined. With Related Notes, when you start creating a note, it searches for related content, not just in your own notes, but across the business. In an era of information overload, Libin said, people are too bothered to search. "We're trying to find the Goldilocks moment here" -- finding just the right information at just the right time, he said.

In many ways, these new capabilities start to unlock the potential of an application like Evernote. Although Libin isn't particularly fond of characterizing Evernote Business as a wiki platform for SMBs, it's starting to feel like one, at least for those who think of wikis as a way to share and discover knowledge. What makes Evernote enticing here is that it's more of a serendipitous discovery than a forced organization of information.

Evernote
Here's a sample end-user view in Evernote Business, which does not resemble many wiki tools.

With wiki software, Libin said, users must explicitly use them -- that is, launch them, login and enter data in a company-defined scheme -- when they want to share information, whereas with Evernote that sharing happens as part of the experience. For example, if you've created an Evernote entry about a recent business trip related to a project, when another user creates an Evernote entry about that project, those entries are automatically linked. "We stand with the end user, Libin said. "We don't make enterprise software. We make software for people. We take the interest of the end user first, including parts of your life."

Evernote Business, priced at $10 per user per month, includes a Web-based administrative application that can be called from the Evernote desktop app. Employees already using the free version of Evernote get upgraded to a more premium version automatically. Evernote has also beefed up its support for business customers, who now get to talk live with a support person.

Evernote Business with just the basic features will ship on all major platforms (Mac, iOS, Android, Windows desktop) starting Tuesday. The serendipitous discovery feature will initially be available only on the Mac, then on the iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows next year.

A Web Clipper capability (described below), which brings Evernote Notes to a Google search, will be available only on Google Chrome at launch, but Libin says it will soon be available on Firefox, followed by Safari and Internet Explorer.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
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ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
12/4/2012 | 4:48:26 PM
re: Evernote For Business: End Of Butt-Ugly Software?
The challenge that the likes of Evernote Business face is how many tools employees have to collaborate and share info. Employees have too many collaboration platforms to monitor and learn. Maybe its integration with browsers and Sharepoint address that, but that critical mass is a big challenge. I agree the ugly era of enterprise software is ending, but employees have put up with ugly software because that's where their colleagues and data are.
rnunez950
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rnunez950,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/4/2012 | 10:39:26 PM
re: Evernote For Business: End Of Butt-Ugly Software?
Nice UI layout. However, most businesses are embracing social capabilities in their collaboration tools and demand integration with their core productivity suite (e.g., Microsoft, Google, etc.). Comparisons to wiki software is a bit outdated. More importantly, how will Evernote Business compare with tools like Huddle, Podio, CaptureToCloud, Box, etc.?
FritzNelson
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FritzNelson,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/4/2012 | 10:51:13 PM
re: Evernote For Business: End Of Butt-Ugly Software?
I think you capture the essence of the issue quite well, although to be fair to Evernote, they aren't claiming to be such a tool, nor a wiki. My personal use of Evernote (and I have & do use, and/or have tested, some of the other social enterprise tools and productivity software) would provide this answer: you use Evernote to create data. The more you use it, the more you realize that it can store all of your free form content (not to mention things you want to save from the web and other places). It becomes a repository for organized, unstructured content from many sources. If people already use it this way, then it makes sense to start comparing it to those other tools, because now it can start to do some of what those other tools do, and hopefully it will also integrate into the Jive or Sharepoint-type systems. The problem I have, in particular, with the existing social collaboration tools is that it takes me out of where & how I already work. I have to go to those places to share something. I have to take a new action. I do it. And it works. And over time those become great repositories. But if I'm already doing it in Evernote, and those capabilities suddenly become available to me, I'd rather just stay inside that app, because that's how I already work.
rnunez950
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rnunez950,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/5/2012 | 1:06:09 AM
re: Evernote For Business: End Of Butt-Ugly Software?
Good point. I wonder how many apps that were built for personal use have been successful in transitioning to domain deployments inside an organization. A good contrast might be Dropbox vs. Box. As I understand, Dropbox was initially focused on individual users, while Box went after business users. Although Dropbox has attained a phenomenal 100M user base, I think Box is more entrenched in the enterprise camp. Podio, Huddle, CaptureToCloud, Jive, and others were built for the professional and business user from the get go. To your point, I think these companies will be far more successful in addressing the business user's needs precisely because they are integrated with the tools enterprise/business people use. If you're a Sharepoint user, would you opt for Evernote or simply upgrade to OneNote or implement Jive? If you're a Google Apps user, would Evernote be a natural choice?
FritzNelson
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FritzNelson,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/5/2012 | 2:36:27 AM
re: Evernote For Business: End Of Butt-Ugly Software?
It's a good comparison, and I think we'll get to see it all play out. Remember how Lotus Notes was supposed to work how you worked? Where are they now? I'm probably more familiar with Jive, but I could see Evernote replacing it for what I use it for -- if everyone else used it. Google Apps: I use that for real-time collaboration, AND I use the spreadsheet feature, so I couldn't replace it with Evernote. However, linkages abound: bring my Google word processing docs into Evernote? Yes. View Google spreadsheets in Evernote? Yes. I could see some combos working: Google Apps + Evernote + Box?
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
12/7/2012 | 11:44:11 PM
re: Evernote For Business: End Of Butt-Ugly Software?
It looks like a modern application. The problem is that all modern applications look butt ugly. In all fairness, it is indeed a beauty when compared to VS2012.
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