The past few days have all been about this.
Personally, I like Zimbra. It is a great product NOT because of its AJAX web-based technology superiority.
The product is great because it has features that immediately create value for me (i.e. Relevance).
The way it uses Tags can help me keep track of emails in my Hiring or Sales pipelines, or based on the different projects that I am managing.
The way it integrates the calendar and contacts is just the info I need. E.g. when I hover over a person’s name in email, I need to contact him.
Small things such as this helps Zimbra save me droplets of time that are typically spent in the overheads of wrestling with Microsoft technology.
So what’s wrong? Why would I not buy Zimbra?
The answer is rather simple: I dont consider those droplets of overheads to be significant pains that I want to pay premium to overcome.
I dont consider my existing email solution, be it Outlook or Gmail, to be broken. It is probably because we already have an extensive collaboration in place already, and because of that I do not think the marginal value added by Zimbra is significant.
For the rest of my team, the marginal value that Zimbra creates is not bigger than the pain in shifting our processes over to Zimbra (which is needed to get that value in the first place).
OR perhaps I cannot see far enough to realize that I will become dependent on Zimbra when I use it. It will be interesting to see if we actually start moving away from our own solution by using Zimbra (which we are using as a trial).
Why should you care?
There are a number of common reasons for product failure, which include:
- No value created – enter most web1.0 and web2.0 projects
- Ahead of its time – perhaps Zimbra is
- Solving a problem which doesnt exist – Similar to the previous two, because value is only created against needs
- Only marginal additions – True success would come from, e.g. rethinking the entire ’email’ thing completely — something like what Gmail tried with conversations + search.
- High Costs of Adoption – This is the biggest issue with Enterprise products. Let’s make an automated car — which requires us to learn a new scripting language when entering driving directions. Would you use it?
- Short Technology Lifecycle — What if I spend two months learning Zimbra only to see something else replace it?