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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.

Evernote is a free, Web-based service that lets users create and organize free-form notes. It has applications for all major desktop and mobile platforms. The company says more than 45 million people use Evernote, to house and organize a variety of unstructured content.

Evernote also creates Web Clippers for all of the major desktop browsers, so users can send Web pages directly into Evernote with a mouse click. Each user gets an Evernote email address, so you can send emails directly into Evernote as well. Evernote supports documents, lets users create voice notes and even tags entries with location.

Evernote also has a set of APIs, which about 20,000 developers tap to extend its capabilities and integration. Evernote's Trunk service provides access to many of those applications, which include news feeds, Skitch files (Evernote acquired this screen capture and augmentation tool), expense filing apps, a food and recipe app (called Evernote Food) and much more.

Today's personal Evernote also has a premium version, which costs $5 per month or $45 per year. One key feature of the premium version is that it lets Evernote users share information with one another. For instance, I use Evernote to plan various content projects for our websites and video shows, and I share those project notebooks with other users so that we have the same information. In fact, we collaborate on that data -- like any shared Web-based document, it allows for co-authorship, but not in real time, as with Google Docs.

The premium version of Evernote also gets you 1 GB of content upload each month (vs 60 MB for the free version), and allows note sizes of up to 100 MB (vs 25 MB in the free version). It includes offline notebook access, indexed and searchable PDF files.

How Evernote Business Works

But here's an extremely important point, especially in this age of BYOD: If you've already got a personal account, that information stays personal even if your company starts using Evernote Business. That is, there's no opportunity for an organization running Evernote Business to get at your personal, unshared documents. As a user, you can still choose to share that information, but you can also create a Business Notebook. This is simply a designation that the notebook is related to work. You still must explicitly share them with co-workers (one by one), and then those co-workers can view and edit and search those Notebooks. Publishing the Business Notebook in the Business Library makes it available to the entire company.

Manage Notebooks
You decide which notebooks to share with colleagues.

"We have a strong point of view on how the product is supposed to be used," Libin said. Evernote Business is for fast-growing companies, he added. "If they say you can't make personal notes on company time, then they shouldn't be using it," he said.

Back to the Related Notes feature, Evernote isn't just matching tags and keywords, Libin said. The Evernote data team has been working on machine learning for years. The system uses semantic analysis to understand what's in the notes. He gave an example where he was typing in "ABQ," which happens to be the Albuquerque airport code, which created an association with the TV show Breaking Bad, which is filmed and set in that city. This wasn't a literal text string match, he said, but a true association the system made.

This capability even works outside of Evernote. For those who use Evernote Clipper in a Web browser (available for now only in the Chrome browser), upon performing a Google search, the user is presented with a list of relevant Evernote entries on the right-hand side of the Google Results page, including those from team members. See the view below:

Google Evernote Search
Here's what you see when Google searches meet relevant Evernote material.

Down the road, Libin would like to extend Evernote's reach into other sources of enterprise information. SharePoint, for example, seems like a good target. Evernote will likely expect third-party developers to create some of those meaningful integrations, but given how entrenched SharePoint is, it might be wise for Evernote to do some of the early work here. After all, this is a case of Evernote crashing the enterprise party, even if it's bringing the coolest party favors.

Libin's prediction: "We're seeing the last couple of years of ugly business software." The technology people have gotten used to in their personal lives has set high expectations, he said, but when "they show up to work, everything's kind of crappy."

Business-class applications, he added, should offer better experiences.

That, he said, is where the money is.

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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.
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?
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?
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.
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.?
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.
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