I was in Stockholm, Sweden last week attending the Best of BrainShare Tour and the Open Horizons Nordic Summit. It was a great event where many Novell customers were represented and great presentations and discussions took place.
One evening Erno de Korte and Paul van der Cruyssen sponsored a 'Free Flow' event. This was a great opportunity for engineering (myself) to speak directly with a group of customers and hear their concerns, listen to their issues, strategize together about future directions and needs and help solve some of their current problems. There was a healthy discussion about GroupWise and about the new features that are available through Novell Teaming + Conferencing.
We spoke a lot about the Address Book. The differences between the Contacts Folder, the Address Selector and the Address Book. This division of contact uses was first introduced in GroupWise 7 and appears to continue to create some confusion and concern. Our long term direction with Address Book data is to move away from the Address Book in favor of Contacts folders and the Address Selector. This is in coordination with our internal desire to move away from MAPI. MAPI is currently leveraged for our current Address Book, the Outlook Connector and desktop integrations.
We spoke about iManager vs ConsoleOne vs Zen-like management console. As expected, the room was split exactly down the middle. 50% of the room said that a Web-based management console was the best and only way to go and 50% said that the Web was the absolute worst decision we could ever make. The debate rages on!!
We spoke a lot about the 'little' Bonsai features and how valuable and essential they are to the overall satisfaction of end-users and how important they are to the overall productivity of the organization.
We discussed a future emphasis on a Web Client. Continuing to make the Web Client as rich a user experience as absolutely possible. We talked about administrators desire to have more and more of their user base using WebAccess only. We had a lot of interest from several of the customers that this would be a great strategy for the direction of GroupWise. My personal view is that administrators love this idea because it solves or eases several concerns and headaches from their perspective. They do not have to roll out a client, they control the places that information resides, access is from anywhere, very consistent interface from all of their users - no matter what platform they are using. My view is that end-users may not be as appreciative of this strategy - but am keeping an open mind :). End-users want features and capability like offline/archive/backup, desktop integrations, control over their data, a very rich email, task management, contacts and calendaring experience. Features and experiences that the web is making progress, but still lacks a lot of the rich experience.
I am very interested in opening up these discussions with more partners, customers, end-users and administrators. We get a chance to speak with customers during several events during the year, but this forum may allow for a broader sampling of experience, expectations and geographies.
So.... What say you? Anxious to hear your ideas and thoughts!!
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