There are numerous ways in which people changed way they communicate for the last decades. Email is definitely one of them. Email came to our life in the end of 80s last century and fundamentally changed communication between people and social groups. Despite significant challenges, email brings huge rational in the way people communicate. Email becomes very popular also in business eco-system. These days you almost cannot imagine organization working without an email system. Email resolved lots of communication and logistical problem between people working in different departments and locations.
At the same time email brings a lot of challenges. Email overflow, tracking of mails, threads – these are the most significant email challenges that comes together with email when you apply it in the space of business collaboration. Product Lifecycle Management is not exclusion in this business collaboration. PLM is heavily relies on collaboration and communication and therefore question of email came very soon to the level of how PLM need to re-use, ignore or improve email capabilities. So far, PLM, in my view, have long love and hate relationships with email systems. From side of the advantages, email can significantly improve communication of people as part of collaborative business processes proposed by PLM systems. From the other side, complexity of email communication kills and people stack in the end with inability to resolve email overflow and other peoples.
There are few interesting trends and examples I see in how companies use (or ignore) email systems. Some of them I’d like to discuss more in deep.
Unified communication concept and SharePoint
Micorsoft takes unified communication as an extreme version of messaging and collaboration between people. By enabling multiple ways to communicate, Microsoft breaks email communication into pieces and allows people not to be locked in their communication on email only. SharePoint makes future, even deeper, step in messaging and mail collaboration by allowing to post mail (message) to folders and workspaces in SharePoint. Combined with Unified communication it creates interesting environment for collaboration. Main disadvantage in my view is removal of “single focal point”, which significant point of success for current mail-based collaboration.
3DLive Collaborative Environment
Dassault Systems introduced new collaborative environment (3DLive) about 2 years ago. This tool (as well as future coming V6 capabilities) provides people with capability to work directly with people and eliminate email communication. With his own pros and cons, this is very interesting approach.
Redefine email. This is Google Wave mission. By focusing on two most significant pains with regards to email – collaborative work and structured messages, Google Wave predicts change in the way people communicate today. This is still in the future.
At the same time, there are quite many examples of tools and systems lately introduced on the market that focuses on pain relief for disappointed email users. I’d like to feature two of them – Vuuch and ShareFlow.
Vuuch, a new “design discussion” tool, is focusing on how possible to bring relevant context into discussion between designers and engineers and, by doing that, improve way for designer and engineers will communicate. Significant advantage of Vuuch, as I see them, will be eliminating need to follow complicated email threads. I see it as very interesting experiment and innovative development.
ShareFlow from Zenbe, this is another example of “follow email pain” strategy. Their value proposition came from the point where to use email is next to impossible. ShareFlow product is promoted to become email problem solver.
I understand that it’s almost impossible to cover all possible and impossible combinations of mail usage and also solutions. I’d not be able to cover all. I’m looking forward to your questions and discussions.