Archive for the ‘Email Overload’ Category

Email and Knowledge Management: It’s like keeping a fish in a kennel

At its heart, knowledge management is all about the ability to capture the knowledge created in an organization, and making it available to everyone in the company today, and in the future.  Every document, presentation, contact, or even message created in a company represents this knowledge, which might be of use to someone else in the company.

Unfortunately, lots of companies, even those with specialized knowledge management software, simply use email to manage this information. As a result, this information simply gets lost in someone’s inbox, from where it is nearly impossible to recover, and certainly not available to others in the company.

We call this the “Death of information”. We have created the following video to give you an idea of the damage email may be doing to the company’s collective knowledge. Please leave your comments!



I swear it wasn’t me, it was email

Have you ever emerged from an email conversation feeling socially shamed and made to look like an expert commentator on last year’s news? Well, then we understand each other.

Here’s my story. I was just part of an email thread involving important people who did not know me, and evidently, I was eager to impress. After carefully drafting my reply, which (I thought), evoked mental images of me as a seasoned professional with enlightened views on all things important (all suited up, reflective expression, albeit with a hint of disdain?) I leaned back with a sigh of contentment.

Until I realized the conversation had moved much beyond the email I had responded to….

After chewing on my tie a couple of times, I frantically typed out another message to save the situation the best I could.

And I realized I had done it again…

ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

After reprimanding the universe for conspiring against me in the choicest terms, an epiphany struck me – it was not the universe, or me, IT WAS EMAIL!

In email conversations, scattered across a multitude of folders and emails, everyone eager to be heard, what hope do I, mere mortal, have of keeping up?

If only, my next thought was, IF ONLY, we could have conversations like we do on social walls, where everyone posts their opinion in a single place, and the conversation refreshes in real time; I would say the right thing at the right time, and be well on my way to respect and professional ascendancy.

And I ask of thee…WHY NOT?

P.S – Share your email pain with me in the comments section.

Why Social is an improvement over Email – Our take

Albeit a little belatedly, I got wind of a very interesting debate spurred by Alan Lepofsky of Constellation Research, where he compares email to social messaging as a notifications and communication system. We’ve spoken to Alan before, and were privileged to be featured in his recent report – Getting Work Done With Social Task Management (a must read for forward thinking managers). Alan is one of the thought leaders in collaboration and social business and we have high regard for his depth of knowledge.

Alan brings up 3 important points, which we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about ourselves. He feels that some of the touted benefits of social tools over email are, well, BS. They replace one kind of chaos with another. Our responses:

Alan 1. Email feels mandatory where social networks are voluntary. BS! As companies adopt internal social networks the pressure to “check your stream” is going to be just the same as “check your inbox”.
Agreed. Moving from email to social tools at work is simply a question of moving your digital “home”. Email is our default home because today, it happens to be the hub where all important work related activity is taking place. In the past decade, there have been efforts to make other tools the workers’ digital home – the intranet for example. That didn’t go over so well. However, we believe that making your social wall your digital home brings some marked benefits, and warrants this move:

1. You keep track of only internal activity on your work related social walls. Email on the other hand attracts every imaginable communication and notification from the outside world. Important internal communications get lost in this sea all the time. Although modern business social networks do let users monitor some external information, this information still comes through filters. Email, in contrast is the playground of every scammer and marketer in the world.

2. Email is siloed. Every email exchange exists in a block, available to only the sender and receiver, which gets buried soon after it was created. The business knowledge captured in an email is forever locked away and can almost never be used to benefit the business in the long term. On the other hand, social tools are open and encourage even people not in the original conversation to participate, and transform that information into new unexpected forms that will benefit the organization.

3. Email is inefficient, in that every exchange creates a new block of information. Information is therefore duplicated exponentially, as it is sent back and forth time and again. Social tools on the other hand pull people to central copies of information.

4. Social tools have a superior structure. The overall information design of social tools with activity streams, comment threads, profiles, seems to be vastly more user friendly than email, as amply proved by the success of services like tools like Facebook. Social tools bring further benefits like linking you right back to the object notifications relate to – for example in HyperOffice, you can access a task right from the task notification.

Alan 2. You can check social networks when it’s convenient as opposed to feeling like your inbox is waiting for you 24*7. BS! As companies adopt social networking people’s expectations will be that you’re always monitoring the stream.
Agreed. But monitoring a social stream is easier since it mostly relates to internal activity or highly filtered information.

Alan 3. Any reduction in the number of emails is a good thing. OMG I hate this one. Now instead of checking my inbox I have to check Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Yammer, LinkedIn, etc. Uggghhhh.
Adoption definitely suffers when people are expected to manage work through multiple software. However, when we refer to social business tools, we are talking about a single internal social network. Keeping on top of multiple networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin is indeed becoming important for modern businesses, but that is more in the domain of social media marketing and social CRM. Social business software relates to working together with colleagues and partners. So even if you mainly use email, you still have to use Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc. for the above purposes.

My arguments relate to the superiority of using a private social network over email for internal communications and monitoring system. However, to interact with the outer world, email still seems to be the best tool, simply because different email systems can interact with each other through standard protocols. Social software is not yet at that level of maturity. We fully recognize this reality, for which reason email remains an important cornerstone of our HyperOffice suite.



HyperOffice gets iCalendar Integration


Scheduling is no longer a pain

One of the greatest pains of professional life is schedule coordination. A time which is suitable for some is not suitable for others, and a perpetual game of scheduling and rescheduling ensues.

Internally, if a company is using calendar software, the pain is somewhat mitigated, as everything can be done through inbuilt calendar features (simply click the “request reschedule” button).

However, if the parties involved are from different organizations using different calendar software, the only recourse is email. Scores of inbox clogging emails fly back and forth before a time is finally agreed upon.

That was until now.

We have added iCalendar integration (also called iCal and CalDav sometimes) to HyperOffice calendars. iCalendar is a protocol which allows different calendaring systems to interact with each other – which means HyperOffice calendars can now interact with diverse iCalendar compliant calendar systems like Outlook, Exchange, Google Calendars, Yahoo, Hotmail, IBM Lotus Notes and so on.

So, if you want to invite an external party to an event, just add their email in the calendar invite field, and they will instantly be sent a meeting invitation by email. Clicking on accept in their email will instantly set up an event on their calendar and send you back a confirmation. Or, they could request a reschedule.

It also works the other way. If someone with an iCalendar compliant calendar sends you a meeting invite, clicking on “accept” instantly sets up the event on your personal calendar. And in true HyperOffice spirit, we have added more to the experience. You can browse through your schedule right there in the email body to see if you can accommodate the new event or not.

Please do try it out!

Make Way Fmail, Gmail. All hail Hmail!

Most of us get entangled in the frenzy of the moment, the immediate bickering in our environment.

But the discerning ones amongst us can take a step back, and see clarity in the chaos, a method in the madness, a sublime logic in a torrent of haphazard information, if you will.

What will you make of the mountain of coverage surrounding the recent launch of Fmail (Facebook Messages)? “This spells the death of email!” some say, “Fmail will kill Gmail!” others pitch in, “Apocalypse!!” What are you supposed to make of it all??

Look closely…

Email, Fmail, Gmail……

Can you see it yet? The pattern?

Yes! Evolution, development, progress are what you see! And the logical next step is the series is, you got it, Hmail!

The Evolution of Email

HyperOffice Mail or Hmail brings the next level of what businesses want from email – Email deeply integrated with all the essential productivity tools in the organization. Pundits for years have waited on the death of email (like vultures hovering over a weak animal?). But rather than growing weak with age, becoming passe’, email keeps going from strength to strength.

Yet, the weaknesses of email are widely recognized as well. Email overload is one of the biggest bottlenecks in information worker productivity today. Some of us feel like we spent our entire work lives sifting through our inbox, which fills out faster than we can ever hope to empty it. We are all Sisyphuses trapped for eternity in our inboxes.

Email is evidently ill suited for some purposes – document collaboration, schedule coordination, task tracking and group discussions. Better “collaboration tools” have been invented for a few years now, to best handle each of the above areas – document management, shared calendars, project management and discussion forums respectively. No wonder collaboration tools have become almost universally adopted across businesses.

But such creatures of habit we are, almost Sirenlike, email uses false promises of simplicity to tempt us to use it “just this once”, to delegate a task, share a document, or coordinate a meeting. The torrent of mails that follow has only us to bear!

But what if the other collaboration tools were integrated in the same system as email? What if using the right tool for the right purpose was as simple as using email, since they are in the same system anyway? What if with a single click, you could push information from email into the right system – a task, a document?

That is the promise of Hmail. Collaboration software tools integrated with email, in a single seamless web based system.

Read the following article for detailed benefits of integrated email and collaboration software.

What’s the Buzz? Enter Collaboration Software, Exit Email

brand-logosAs our dear readers must already know, last month Shahab co authored a white paper with tech whiz James Gaskin on the subject of “managing the email overload“. Email overload is a problem almost everyone faces, and many novel strategies have been suggested to deal with it. Our white paper was our humble take on managing the email torrent.

To rewind, we had suggested that much of the problem of email overload comes not from spam, or even pesky online salesmen, or even journals we subscribed for before the beginning of time. The problem arises from internal corporate communications, or using email for the wrong things within the corporate boundaries, namely, coordination of schedules, collaborating on documents, delegating tasks, making group decisions. We had further gone on to say that the solution was to move to online collaboration software for the above stated purposes. This would achieve the dual purpose of drastically reducing the email deluge, as well as improve business productivity.

We seem to have struck a chord. The whitepaper lead to a new torrent, albeit a welcome one. The whitepaper got wide coverage, both by niche blogs, as well as some of the most well known blogs in the tech industry. Some flattering coverage is as follows:-

ZDNet – Take the Email Test – Can collaboration tools save time and money?

CMS Wire – Working Smarter – 4 Potential Ways to Avoid Email Chaos

Smallbiztechnology.com – Get Rid of Email In Favor of Proper Tools: Boost Productivity & Reduce Your InBox

TMCNet – Email Overload or Bankruptcy?

Collabo – Collaboration Software & Email: Designing Tools for the Problem at Hand

Mac tech – HyperOffice kicks off new webinar series for SMBs

Thanks a lot guys! We hope we were able to bring value to your readership!

Email Overload solved by Online Collaboration

Email overload is starting to become recognized as the biggest culprit of lost productivity. I began researching this topic a couple weeks ago and found that just in the last 3 months alone there have been articles written by the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, segments on TV news stations, and dozens of blog entries trying to wrestle with this problem. A very recent Basex Research study has found that information overload, including email interruptions, cost businesses $900 billion annually in terms of productivity. I found that there are a few distinct approaches to this problem.

The first group of solutions involves best practices. For example, filing emails into folders, signing a truce with your co-workers to not always reply to all and use subject lines more effectively, don’t read email in the morning, and the list goes on. The second, is managing spam. Buying the latest spam filter, or going with a business email service that will do this for you…well, and how to avoid getting on these lists. The third approach assumes that if you are getting too many emails you have some broken internal business process that needs to be streamlined and email should not be used in ways it was not intended. For example, using email to collaborate on documents, scheduling meetings, getting updates on projects, etc.  Moving to online workspaces is where I think the biggest improvements can be made. I speak with so many businesses each day who have to collaborate but are using email to share information with their team.

To better understand the causes of email overload and how to improve productivity while cutting back on email is what we discuss in a white paper published today at http://www.hyperoffice.com/business-email-overload Please review this study and join us for a live webinar where our special guest speaker, James Gaskin, a well respected columnist who writes on technology topics for SMBs at NetworkWorld and IT World will discuss this topic in detail. This online seminar is open to the public and we expect a lively discussion about how to solve email overload at your organization. Read more and register for the May 28th webinar here