Blogger: Bill Pray
Much has been said about how approaches like Google Wave may spell the final doom of e-mail. An article in the Wall Street Journal recently declared ”Email has had a good run as king of communications. But its reign is over.”
The reality is that e-mail is a very useful tool, particularly when used as designed - for asynchronous communication. Just like snail mail continues to meet the needs of specific uses cases, e-mail will continue to be a key part of the information worker’s toolkit for many years into the future.
What is changing is the e-mail centric inbox. Cisco, with its recent launch of Cisco WebEx Mail, calls its vision “Inbox-Centric Collaboration.” The idea is to enhance the inbox and create a place where Cisco says “multiple tools and data sources come together.” Essentially, this is what IBM and Microsoft have been attempting to do for years with desktop e-mail clients, but haven’t been entirely successful. The dynamic that has changed is the fit client – a rich web client - that permits the aggregation, management, and use of information from multiple sources (including e-mail) more easily than the fat desktop clients.
While Cisco is approaching the universal inbox from the e-mail inbox direction, Novell is coming at it from the team workspace with its recently announced Pulse offering. Novell’s Pulse attempts to create a place where e-mail, real-time collaboration (i.e. instant messaging, messaging services, presence), co-browsing, and content co-editing and sharing all come together in a managed environment – Novell refers to it as a “unified inbox.”
The evolution of the e-mail client to a richer, managed inbox experience where e-mail becomes just one of the communication tools – an asynchronous communication tool – assures a continued long life for e-mail technologies.