Whatever new technology comes out, it seems that the number of emails we get every day only continues to rise. Well, not everywhere. On my last birthday, I received wishes from 65 sources: 58 from friends through Facebook and the remaining 7 from the financial institutions that I deal with (all automated system notifications). Like me, I am sure that many of you have a personal email inbox with mostly subscriptions and like messages and very few emails from friends. As one Millennial said, “Only my grandma sends emails to me.” Why not the same case at work? On average, I get 200 emails per day in my inbox plus the ones that go to specific folders. I’m not even including the voluntary recreational subscriptions that go to separate folders.
We are a true global company with a workforce distributed across multiple geographies and time zones. Emails connect us all effectively, but managing them is a nightmare. And how much data, network, effort is spent to maintain all this? I took training on managing Outlook, and I’m a sincere follower of GTD. But I need to confess. I still struggle to manage my emails.
I started using Cisco Spark recently and got to thinking. Why don’t we leverage Spark as a complete medium for all our communications and move away from email? Revolutionary? Maybe the Spark team is already working on this idea. . . . Several years ago, our acquisition of WebEx included an email cloud product that Cisco was interested in rolling out, but it did not materialize. As with any technology, the timing is critical. And timing is right for Cisco Spark.
Today, we use Spark mainly for collaboration − quick meetings, sharing media / video asynchronously. I’ve used it with a team member for 1:1 conversations and find it extremely useful. We don’t have to worry about storing files on both our laptops, or about archiving, or whether one of us lost an email or didn’t see an email thread. It’s all there on the Spark server. Of course, before we could completely leverage Spark, there are several use cases that need to be addressed. I don’t know if calendar integration (available now in the mobile app only) is through Exchange or if it will still use Exchange. If so, does Spark become another email client instead of Outlook? Calendar integration − the ability to create, accept, decline, or propose a new meeting − is a critical component of an email application. I am sure that this functionality can be built or enhanced in the existing Spark application.
We would need a whole new intuitive interface to bring this experience to life. We should be able to check our emails by people or alias or project or program that we care about. And should we still call them emails? Updates? Spark Notify? Spark already has a notification center that we could leverage.
Some small companies have already completely moved away from email and improved their productivity by up to 30 percent. For a big company like Cisco, the move could be a great win. One place to go for all communications. Fewer emails, fewer transactions. Employee productivity gains. Less data and less data transfer. No files sitting on local machines. No information overload. A good solution with BYOD or virtual desktop infrastructure. A great win.