Thursday, 1 April 2010

Email – Love it, hate it, store it – find it?

Email is such a contradiction – I for one am so reliant on it; I get updates, alerts, information, collaboration, communication and so much more from it. I also have an inbox that seems to fill up every time I am away from my desk, and I question how much of the time that I spend on emails is actually of business benefit?

The other problem is organisation – I get a lovely snippet of useful information by email, what do I do with that so that I can usefully find it again? Many of us drop the email into our email folders (some better organised than others), I might add it to our blog or reference it in our knowledge system. Those of us with a DMS that allows email filing have an advantage, can drop it into a folder that can be collaborative, contextual, inclusive of documents and material from elsewhere, flagged if it is already filed by someone else, and full text searchable – so reducing duplication.

A decent search engine and we are not limited to browsing a good – or a poor organisational structure to find it again.

However, in many organisations emails are filed by one person in their personal email folders, at the same time as many others in that organisation are storing that email in their own email folders; taking up space unnecessarily and often, being lost for future use.
The information may not be shared – for the fear that others may already have it, or that others might not value it, so some people will not have even seen that nugget of relevant information before it is filed away and lost.

A recent post from Jason Plant made me smile – “Email, hate the stuff” - I have to sympathise!

However, the death of the email has been talked of for some years, this post from 2008 talks of the last days of email and suggests alternatives – RSS feeds for information updates, speaking to colleagues face to face or picking up the phone, using collaborative calendars. Although these are all good tools – and I do believe that RSS has huge potential in the work place, even though it is not always exploited enough in innovative ways to fit in with people’s workflow – email still fills that gap.

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