Andrew Anker details the power of the user experience for office users at VentureBlog. His experience in trying to configure a set of tools to meet his needs reiterated the next powerbrokers will be those who design user experiences. The user experience really is a key differentiator for many businesses. Why do I shop at Amazon and not Chapters/Indigo? It’s because of the superb Amazon user experience.
On another note, I sympathize with Andrews’ plight to find a good tool or set of tools that allow connectively to my information independent of my platform, location or machine. The best solution to date has been to truck my Powerbook around with me, but that is not always useful, specially since I have a Windows set up at the office that uses a VPN and IP-specific firewall identification for authentication to our corporate infrastructure servers. I use a combination of GroupWise, Thunderbird, MozillaFirefox, Safari, iCal and Mail, depending on my location. But it still difficult to sync all of the necessary information. Apple’s .Mac is a great platform, unfortunately it is still too consumer focused. It looks like .Mac is a WebObjects application, why Apple isn’t selling this to corporate or small businesses to deploy on an XServe boggles my mind. Including the .Mac applicaton with Mac OS X Server would seal the deal for me.
I’ve looked at SUSE Open Exchange Server and it is pretty close. The support for WebDAV and Outlook make it a very attractive solution. However, SUSE Linux won’t run on my extra PowerPC hardware, and I am not looking to acquire even a cheap x86 platform.
I guess I could configure my old Cube to function as a server. I need to handle configure the airport. I could enable WebDAV and install PHP iCalendar for calendaring (alternate instructions). Using Postfix Enabler to enable mail services and SSL, would have mail up and running. For web access I could enable SquirrelMail or I could install Horde for web-mail and other web clients. I just need to provide secure web access and enable an LDAP address book and I am pretty close to having the tools I want. Now for some collaboration tools?