Email – Victim of its own success?

Electronic mail aka email, is a great communications tool that benefits from extreme ease-of-use and near ubiquity. It’s the ‘Killer application’ of the century. Like the telephone, email is used to easily connect people across organizational and geographic boundaries. Individuals from multitudes of organizations use email to work together to create and review content, consider options, make decisions, and coordinate all types of business processes. Email is being used by governments to discuss how to bring about world peace and by scientists searching for a cure for cancer. Thus email has become the de facto standard for collaboration.

Yet email has become a victim of its own success. Unmanageable volumes of business- and non business-related email are hampering worker productivity and increasing email storage and maintenance costs. We end up spending a good portion of our days in managing, sorting, filtering and organizing our emails

Just because people have started using emails extensively for all possible reasons does not mean that it is suited best for handling all possible collaboration requirements. Email was designed, in all its simplicity and grace to transfer text messages between two points of communication.

The Issues Within:

a) Fundamentally Unstructured, Unorganized and Uncategorized data:

The context of an email is in its body. Thus the importance or value of the email for its users is in what it holds in its body. Yet the data in the body of the email is unstructured, unorganized and uncategorized. Such data leads to loss of information with no ability to retrieve it easily and meaningfully at a later date.

b) Does a poor job of enabling a group of people to Share and Discuss information and arrive at a decision in a short period of time:

Document attachments and sharing is one of the prime reasons for the widespread use and success of email. But it is difficult to compile and keep track of revisions to attachments and comments.

c) Creates a huge Security Risk as multiple copies of attached documents are made for every recipient:

Senders of email have no control over these local copies of their documents shared with their email’s recipients.

d) Creates Spotty Conversation Threads:

It’s difficult for any person in a particular conversation thread to get the whole picture with the history of changes made by everybody involved.

e) Encourages Occupational Spam:

Within enterprises, well-intended individuals sending a business or personal email may without any extra effort copy or “cc” more people than necessary.

When the email carries a huge attachment, such as slides or an audio or video file, this action wastes precious time, storage, and network resources.

f) Cannot have real time knowledge of the recipient’s Email Behavior:

Senders of email have no clue as to what really happened with their emails once they have reached their recipients or as to what the recipient is doing with it without again sending out a bunch of emails or making phone calls to know about the statues of their first email!

g) No Integration with backend business applications and systems:

Users have to be content with ‘Cut, Copy, Paste’ to transfer data between their emails and their business application systems

So, has email become a victim of its own success? Are people over stretching and abusing the email system? Is there a solution to this mess?



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