In search of social email…

Coming up with the brand-new game-changing email seems to have become more than just a vogue. It’s obvious by now that traditional email is not an efficient method of communicating information quickly to different teams and getting back a quick response. Chat applications do this better. But a simple chat lacks proper options for corporate purposes; we need a history, users, working teams or channels and above all proper integration with company tools. Furthermore, most firms base the internal communications of their teams on a potpourri of different services: email, instant messaging services like Dropbox or Skype, etc.

One of the trailblazing projects along these lines was Google Wave, which sprang up in 2009 as an attempt to blend the services of email, instant messaging, wiki and social networking sites. With a clearly collaborative approach, it tried unsuccessfully to revolutionize the social market but was dropped hardly a year later due to lack of takeup.

In recent years there have been other attempts to unify communication services but none of them seemed to gel until the market advent of Slack in 2013. This cloud application and service offers precisely the unification of all communications, harnessing their full potential and integrating them into a tool that has now gone viral. In 14 months it has clocked up a value of over 1 billion dollars. It is surprising that a simple chat application would seem to be the software company that has grown most quickly ever.

In the wake of solutions like Hipchat and Campfire, Slack enables us to communicate in a group chat like employees of the same company. But we are also able to create public chat channels, group conversations and even private messages. Slack would seem to be the ideal tool for unifying these communications of working groups and companies, especially those with work teams scattered around the world. In these scenarios where we need to keep track of who is doing what, when, how and why, this service proposes its scheme of maximum integration of diverse services.

Slack has communication systems that work as a nexus between email, instant messaging and chat. It also includes service-integration options like Google Docs, Dropbox, GitHub, Twitter, Grashlytics (error reports), ZenDesk, Wufoo (forms), Nagios, Trello, Heroku, Jenkins, Github, Hubot or Travis, among others. Everything turns up in this flow of messages in which all these elements can be shared and referenced, to be easily found later as need be.

IBM is the latest to jump onto this game-changing email bandwagon with its new Verse product.  IBM Verse is a combination of email, contacts and documents, with a touch of social networking sites and many algorithms, all cloud hosted. One of its main principles is interacting with people, not with email.

Each user can see at a glance the day’s meetings, who’s going to the meetings and how to contact them, the content, and all this combined with an inbox. The tool also uses its algorithms to find out user habits and then display the information to suit, making it much more accessible and intuitive. And as far as email management is concerned, it drafts responses based on similar previous interactions.

IBM Verse adopts a very different approach from the corporate email, integrating as it does the diverse ways in which employees connect up with each daily – by email, meetings, calendars, file sharing, instant messaging, social innovations, video chats and more – in a single collaboration environment.

IBM Verse uses integrated analysis capacities to give an overview that presents in an intelligent way the user’s most critical actions for that day. Capable as it is of learning over time each employee’s unique priorities and preferences, IBM Verse gives an instant snapshot of each project as well as the people and teams collaborating in it. It hence stands apart from most freely available email services, which mine the user’s inbox to boost publicity and monetize this data in another way, an option of no interest to business users, who are concerned about privacy or who operate in regulated industries such as healthcare and finances.

Can you imagine work without sending emails? Well for users of solutions of this type, this has been a viable option for several years now. Solutions of this type look unlikely to oust the majority use of traditional email in the short term but their rapid growth is now making them a very serious option.

Author: Jesús Mariano Pascual Díaz
Responsible of Technologies, Tools and Processes improvements

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Las opiniones vertidas por el autor son enteramente suyas y no siempre representan la opinión de GMV
The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of GMV
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