The Future of Email

September 3, 2009 - 5 Comments

As we continue to integrate Cisco’s acquisition of PostPath into the Cisco SaaS-based Collaboration portfolio , below are some salient characteristics of how email will evolve and change: Universal. Email will be delivered from the cloud (or from mixed cloud-and-customer-premise infrastructures) and accessible everywhere, at any point in time. Users can access email securely through any PC, browser or mobile device, with a rich, intuitive, multi-function user experience available in every platform; although there will be a diversity of client types on every platform, browser-based clients will grow ever more important. Limitless. The dream of a bottomless inbox will become reality. Email systems of tomorrow will be massively scalable, and be able to accommodate any amount of storage. This near-infinite capacity will come hand in hand with high performance and 100% reliability, backed by real local and geographically-remote redundancy, and by customer-based data and system isolation to guard system-wide contagion failures. Automatic Data-mining and Data-organization. Whereas email today often drowns you in information, future email systems will improve productivity by organizing your data for you. It will do personal data mining, extracting useful information and making semantic connections based on subject or content. It will have context-based relevance, automatically bringing you the information you need for your current activity. It will also be extraordinarily searchable — not just at the individual level but also, depending on configuration, within teams and groups. By Duncan Greatwood, Senior Director of Engineering, Collaboration Software GroupAt the Heart of Future Collaboration. Email has been the central form of communication for over a decade and the bulk of corporate data is still stored in email. Yet, email today exists in a silo. Email communications are not readily shared across content collaboration platforms. In its next evolution, email will remain at the heart of communication but it will be tightly integrated with a variety of collaboration approaches. For example, any email content can be shared through any social networking mechanism with a single click. Conversely, social networking content can be immediately published for a pre-defined email community. Email integrated with social collaboration becomes a tool for both ad-hoc and process-driven workflow, from brainstorming to supply chain management to project monitoring to community interaction. And companies can feel comfortable endorsing these new modes of collaboration because communications and sharing of content can be managed by secure policies and appropriate control of access rights.Customizable. Finally, we see an email platform that is customizable and configurable — by end users, IT, ISVs and partners. Customers will have a choice in selecting best-of-class services, such as social software, IM & Presence, CRM, business intelligence, unified communications, etc, to integrate with email. There will no longer be vendor lock-in as customers, partners and developers work with easy-to-use APIs and mashup-capable clients to deliver features and configuration that best fit the needs of the individual, team or organization.

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  1. All the people, including Ray ozzie, who have tried to integrate email to collaboration platform have failed. What is needed is to bring some of the features of collaboration platfrom and Call Center Email systems into email.

  2. Good move for Cisco to acquire Linux-based email server and calendaring company PostPath. Strength of PostPath is compatible with Microsoft Exchange but cost less than Exchange. After acquired WebEx and PostPath Cisco is top 20 companies to watch award in 2009 by Linux Magazine.

  3. Glenn, agree that artifact that have long shelf life need discussion groups.However, email is perfect for ad-hoc collaboration and can benefit from some of the collaborative capabilitiies built natively in email, instead of integrating with collaboration software.

  4. Email is a terrible way to collaborate. It’s great for discussions with a short shelf life but when discussing a deliverable or artifact that could be in effect for years, it is a very poor approach.I know that you’re familiar and comfortable with your email program. It’s time to learn new ways.

  5. In other words, future of email is already here with GMail. It doesn’t have the data mining but I don’t see how data mining technique really apply to email. Email needs powerful search and Gmail already has that.What I would to see in Email is ability to convert email into work item in similar fashion to how email is converted into work items in call center. Obviously, not all emails are work items but giving ability to user to convert email into work items and track things like response time, collaborative treads, ability to close the issue, etc and bringing is some of the social features right into work item email instead of publishing email to FB, etc (which no company will allow anyway) is what is needed in modern email system.All the people, including Ray ozzie, who have tried to integrate email to collaboration platform have failed. What is needed is to bring some of the features of collaboration platfrom and Call Center Email systems into email.ARONSON’S RESPONSE:Jack, Agree with you on managing work items, those kinds of capabilities are all part of email being at the heart of future collaboration. Data-mining can actually be at its most useful in email, because email data is vast and highly unstructured. For instance, if someone mentions their cell-phone number in a stray email, why can’t that be provided ever after as part of their personal profile? Of course, as you say powerful conventional search is also important.Thanks.