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Email Is 40 Years Old, Is It Dead Yet?

Get ready to be more collaborative

This post is sponsored by The Business Value Exchange and HP Enterprise Services

This history of email predates the modern form that we know on our desktops and mobile devices as it tracks its early origins back to the terminals and green screens of the 1960s.

Sometime into the following decade we saw the first "electronic mail" message sent on ARPANET, one of the planet's first packet switching networks and the first breeding ground for the TCP/IP protocol that has helped us build the modern web as we know it.

Then of course came email as we later came to understand the term and the multifarious "clients" (such as Outlook) that would help us govern our use of this new messaging tool with splendid functions like folders, tags, alerts and all manner of colored labels with date and time stamps, etc.

But today, in 2013 (almost 2014) is this enough?

Even the most sophisticated use of Outlook, Thunderbird, Entourage, Apple Mail, Gmail (the list goes on and on) or of any other tool has a limitation that is starting to surface now more than at any time before.

The problem is email needs to be more collaborative.

Social networks and the social applications within them have burgeoned as we, as human beings, have shown ourselves to really quite like the way they interconnect us and help manage our level of participation in the information economy.

This means that new social collaborative tools have arisen.

HP's own Enterprise Collaboration (HPEC) has been designed to help employees (sometimes they even get labeled as "stakeholders" if you can get used to the term) get more done by combining structured processes and unstructured discussions into organised, context-specific conversations on issues such as incidents or defects.

According to HP, "Participants can easily contribute to conversations through HPEC, standard email or instant messages. In addition, every discussion is archived, creating an instantly searchable knowledge base. Best of all, HPEC can directly integrate with many popular HP and third-party tools, allowing staff to continue working in familiar applications."

Okay so this is fine, HP has some amazing layers of collaboration connectivity that it can help bring to bear on and over the existing email structures that we had gotten used to... but do we need more?

Another interesting player in this field is Jive Software. A dedicated specialist in enterprise collaboration software, Jive has ticked all the security boxes and provisioned for extended analysis of the collaboration that its software facilitates - what we mean is that it also has tools to offer records retention and provide data navigation options (sometimes called "e-discovery" if you can get used to the term) for enterprises to drill into the way their employees are using these solutions when they need to.

Anthony Zingale, Chief Executive Officer of Jive Software says that although tools like those within his firm's core products exist, it often comes down to the CEO to participate first and lead the social interaction that's going on to start to send things viral.

We then ultimately get to a new level of enterprise collaboration says Zingale where we can even start to bring in levels of gamification in some instances. Data becomes enriched too as search results (remember our e-discovery process?) start to reflect who an individual is, what data they touch and collaborate with and what they do, i.e., the same search query starts to produce different results for different individuals inside the same company searching on the same socially collaborative data.

Put simply, this whole process sees data exchange start to become a lot more intelligent and analytical than a CC: to all if you are trying to coalesce a group of individuals to discuss a business problem.

No, email is not dead yet, but our personal user data model has changed and you can't argue with this new truth. Get ready to be more collaborative.

More Stories By Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist and corporate content creation specialist focusing on cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects software engineering, project management and technology as a whole.

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