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.
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.