How Evernote became the elephant in 90 million rooms

An area the standard version of Evernote hasn't gone into is collaboration as the experience is ultimately a personal, or "inherently anti-social" one, according to Kozlowski. To introduce collaboration, the company launched a separate product, Evernote Business, in 2011.

While the interface only features subtle differences, Evernote Business separates personal and business Notebooks while taking advantage of Evernote's global search capabilities to not only locate searchable data, but also suggest potentially useful related information.

"As you're working on projects and typing notes, you can see which colleagues have similar search knowledge, which can save a huge amount of time," says Kozlowski. "It brings the people aspect into focus as you can start to see expertise trends in the company."

Evernote for business

Businesses get to share Notebooks

Use cases

As with the regular version of Evernote, the business-flavoured option presents equal scope for innovation when it comes to putting the service to use.

Kozlowski points to an Evernote Business use case in Korea, where staff at a hospital for the elderly are using iPads to share notes on anything from patients' family backgrounds to their taste in music, lighting and colour preferences - all of which she says are used to provide better care both medically and emotionally.

Other use cases are perhaps less obvious. Buddhist monks in San Francisco use it to manage concepts and thoughts, and it's apparently popular among mining companies which take advantage of its offline capabilities by penning notes below the surface and synching them when hoisted back up.

Additionally, a car garage in Australia gives its mechanics iPads to record videos of repairs being carried out, which are uploaded to Notebooks that are shared with owners of the vehicles in a bid to increase trust.

Aside from its collaborative features, Evernote Business also includes ones not found in the standard version, including a Powerpoint-like presentation mode that displays notes full-screen. The company also partnered with in 2013 to make Evernote-stored notes and information directly accessible in sales records for faster retrieval.

Presentation mode

Presenting Presentation Mode


Kozlowski says that the company consciously kept a simplistic, consumer-style design for the business product to let workers "do everything in an interface that's as beautifully designed as something that you would invest in for your personal life".

In Kozlowski's eyes, simplicity in design, along with the flexibility afforded by the cloud, mirrors the "office of the future" where employees don't have desk phones (instead using mobiles) and aren't tied to stationary PC terminals.

"I think that design will become more important in offices in the same way that it's becoming more important in software," she says. "People want a beautiful environment at work - it's inspiring and makes you think better."

The idea of elegant design and cross-platform support has gained traction recently following the launch of Microsoft's well-received, albeit long-delayed Office for iPad. It also let loose a free version of OneNote for Mac, a software suite often touted as Evernote's closest competitor.

It could be said that serious competition to rival Evernote is long overdue, but Kozlowski is confident that the emergence of new rivals won't keep the company's employees up at night.

"We have a philosophy of not thinking about our competitors, because if we did that we'd forget about what we want to do," she says. "We kinda like the idea of not having to get up in the morning worrying about who we need to compete against."

That may be the case, but keeping its trunk ahead of the competition will always be a top priority for the company. Though challenging, when you're an elephant the size of Evernote, it's far from an impossible tusk.

Kane Fulton
Kane has been fascinated by the endless possibilities of computers since first getting his hands on an Amiga 500+ back in 1991. These days he mostly lives in realm of VR, where he's working his way into the world Paddleball rankings in Rec Room.