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Is There a Better Way for Email?

on December 05, 2014

Today the communications industry is growing by leaps and bounds, but one segment hasn’t quite kept up with the rest. You need look no further than your cluttered email inbox to recognize that email has some catching up to do. A recent article published on NoJitter.com has discussed the drawbacks of emails as we know them today while exploring various new-age alternatives to the email that look promising.    

Today the communications industry is growing by leaps and bounds, but one segment hasn’t quite kept up with the rest. You need look no further than your cluttered email inbox to recognize that email has some catching up to do. A recent article published on NoJitter.com has discussed the drawbacks of emails as we know them today while exploring various new-age alternatives to the email that look promising.   

The way email works has remained largely the same over the years. Its role as a ‘clearinghouse’ for alternative forms of communication has grown however, which means your social media alerts, online purchase details, advertisements, marketing deals, etc. – all make their way to your inbox. This not only causes your inbox to get cluttered, but makes it difficult and time-consuming to find any important email or document. Clearly the concept of email is stuck in a rut, a messy one at that.

When it comes to adapting new email functionalities and interfaces, there are several roadblocks, the chief among them being a lack of familiarity. The last two months has witnessed a slew of new products from many communications vendors. For instance, Google and IBM have introduced new approaches to email, while traditional enterprise communications vendors have released new communication alternatives to email as well. Let’s familiarize ourselves with these developments and see how each may help improve our email experience. 

Google Inbox

Google’s ‘Inbox by Gmail’ is presently in the testing phase. It seems to have been inspired by productivity consultant David Allen and his ‘Getting Things Done’ method. Interesting, isn’t it?

If you wish to retain a message, you can do so in one of three ways: Pin (star), Snooze, and Done (archive). You can delete a message in a two-step process. The app offers two remarkable features – “pin” and “bundle”. While the first one helps you keep your top-priority message pinned on top of the rest, the second feature groups related messages together, for instance your purchase confirmation and its shipping notifications.  Sadly though, once the app is made available for general use, Gmail users might find it difficult to switch over owing to its limited features. 

IBM Verse

IBM Verse is more than just an email service. It is, in fact, a collaboration platform aimed at improving overall communication with its email-weds-social approach. Through this platform, users may snooze, filter, search, and share messages, images, and blogs as well.

Unify Circuit & Cisco Project Squared

Unify's Circuit and Cisco's Project Squared have several common features. They integrate IM, video as a service, and social networking to form social collaboration platforms. Fostering communication within the framework of an organization, Unify's Circuit is offered via WebRTC in Chrome or Firefox as a dedicated communication platform.

Cisco's Project Squared, on the other hand, aids intra- and inter-organizational communication using uses WebRTC in Firefox, and is also compatible with other solutions from Cisco such as WebEx and TelePresence. Project Squared includes similar communication features to Unify's Circuit, minus the presence across browsers.

Some other alternatives

Here are some other solutions that are poised to transform your emailing experience:

·       Biba enables real-time collaboration.

·       Clutter for Outlook features actions like Filter, Sweep, Move to, etc.

·       Evernote is useful for creating project workspaces.

·       Glip may enhance team productivity.

·       Quip offers a great mobile productivity suite.

·       Slack is a platform for team communications.

So, have we found a better way for email? We can’t emphatically say “yes” – yet. But that day is probably coming. In the meantime, vendors have started their experiments with alternative solutions to traditional email. While it looks promising, the real solution still remains just beyond the horizon.

What do you think? What’s the state of your email inbox? Is it overwhelming or easily manageable?