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Does consumer mind share influence business decisions?
Scott Hooks    

Several years ago I convinced myself that one of the reasons for Microsoft's success in the business software world was at least partly due to its success in the consumer space. In other words, "everyone has it at home, so they want it at work." This seemed particularly apparent to me with Windows, Internet Explorer, and Outlook. You could argue that Microsoft Office also benefits by being adopted in so many academic institutions. This concept of consumer and academic adoption driving business adoption also seems to have influenced the rise of business instant messaging and business social networking over the past few years. It seems to me that in the absence of some key risk or differentiator in a business solution, the consumer solution has a substantial advantage in business adoption rates.

I won't pretend that I have done extensive analysis on these ideas, and they may be flawed logic. However, as argued by this guy 4-5 months ago here, here, and here, and more recently embraced by the IBM Lotus Marketing team as discussed in this podcast (*cough* credit  *cough*), software adoption in the business world seems to have at least some significant correlation with exposure to end users and decision makers in the consumer space. That is one of the reasons why this consumer email market share update and this article on the battle for email mindshare at colleges and universities concerned me a bit. With Microsoft owning the two largest consumer "cloud-based" email services and Google owning the third spot, and IBM nowhere to be seen, I can't help but wonder how much disadvantage those of us trying to make the case for an IBM solution face not just in selling it, but in facilitating successful end user adoption. Most of my readers know that Lotus Notes is about far more than just email, but consider this: If I am a key executive who uses Microsoft and Google software as a consumer, who are the first two companies I'm going to take a meeting with? Who has the inherent advantage? It's good to hear that Lotus is targeting some advertising at these audiences, but I also wonder if actually letting consumers get their hands on something branded as "Lotus" would amplify the effects. Thoughts?

Aug 15, 2009
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