When Ray Tomlinson became the first person to send a message from one computer to another in 1971, he could hardly have had an idea just how revolutionary his invention would turn out to be. The email, as we now know it, was born. Now the American informatics pioneer has passed on. He leaves behind a technology which has provided many people with a career and is sure to remain an essential part of the digital workplace in the future. For this to succeed, email will need to reinvent itself in many aspects and adapt to meet the requirements of tomorrow’s business world.
Cloud services and mobility define the workplace of the future
Through staff using cloud services flexibly on their own smartphones or tablets, the collaboration across departments, sites and companies has become substantially more efficient. That’s why many companies have long since incorporated the megatrends cloud services and mobility in their IT strategies. To remain competitive in the future too, it follows that companies will have to provide their staff with high-performance applications not only on their work desk PCs, but also for a wide variety of mobile devices. The precondition for this is a powerful, stable and flexible IT infrastructure, which can be handled without any issues by users and administrators alike.
Email communication from the cloud poses stringent security requirements
Security plays a crucial role. When companies use cloud-based applications, business-critical and confidential information is stored at the external data centers of a service provider. This sensitive data thus has to be safeguarded particularly well. Along with reliable encryption solutions, data leakage prevention systems (DLP) also provide assistance. They prevent that business-critical data leaves the company by email inadvertently and could perhaps fall into your competitors’ hands. Currently, however, some DLP functionality is still based on inflexible algorithms. In some cases it is hardly possible to adapt them to meet new requirements. As a result, the trend for the future is toward intelligent, self-learning algorithms which do, however, require significantly more memory and processing power than is common nowadays. These machine-learning based algorithms recognize new patterns or anomalies automatically and react with the corresponding flexibility.
Email must reinvent itself
According to a recent study carried out by the digital association BITKOM just about all companies are using email for business communication, while around 86 percent of companies surveyed use the medium very often. That makes email by far the most commonly employed electronic means of communication. With regard to collaboration at work, emails will continue to play an important role in coming years because in addition to saving and transferring information, they also facilitate asynchronous interaction. Due to the increased use of cloud services and mobile devices at companies, however, the demands on email communication are changing rapidly. In order to reflect the value chain more quickly and precisely, email solutions are now already required to do far more than merely transmit messages. Hence innovative email solutions in the meanwhile integrate calendars, room booking systems, task management or file-sharing – simplifying work considerably for users. Mechanisms which relieve users of work procedures by automating them are becoming key components in email clients and server systems.
Flexible models are needed
At the same time the demands and expectations of workers regarding email systems are becoming ever more heterogeneous. The trend is moving away from uniform email models for all employees and towards individualized and customized user interfaces and apps. In the best case, staff should therefore use mobile and work station email solutions in combination with each other. This allows the employee to decide which model best serves his or her current purpose according to the location or task at hand. To complement programs such as Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes, startups such as Inky, CloudMagic or Triage already offer innovative apps which are intended for touchscreens. These apps may not be suitable for lengthy email interactions, but they do enable users to filter and respond particularly quickly to messages using any smartphone or tablet they choose.
Facing the email flood
The efficiency of email communication is also becoming increasingly important. The US market research institute Radicati estimates that users currently receive 122 emails on average per day to their work inbox, many of which are spam and phishing messages – and this number is on the rise. Retarus E-Mail Security supports companies in winning the battle against this flood of emails. Through the combination of several virus scanners and intelligent spam and phishing filters, the service ensures that spam and phishing messages don’t even gain access to the email inbox. Functions as “Retarus Large E-Mail Handling” make it possible to allow large emails to reach users even when the message exceeds a defined size limit.
Automation facilitates greater efficiency
In order to design business communication as efficiently as possible, communication processes which eat up a lot of time are best fully automated. Many employees therefore use so-called “single function” apps with which they can easily categorize and prioritize their emails. To ensure efficient email communication in the future, a growing number of intelligent mechanisms will be employed to take over the filtering, chronological sorting and task-based structuring of relevant information. By using self-learning algorithms, in the future it will also be possible to fully automate typical service tasks such as order processing or handling service instances. This leaves more time for staff to concentrate on their core tasks once again.
Intelligent mechanisms provide users with additional information
Innovative email systems also provide added value for users by offering additional details about the sender, recipient or planned meetings along with the information typically provided in classic messaging transmission. Email solutions of the future thus connect messages automatically with contact details or profiles of colleagues and business partners, or link travel details with upcoming business trips. To achieve this, the system doesn’t only search through internal address books, calendars or CRM systems, but also finds relevant news from the internet or social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. In this way, users benefit from being perfectly prepared for communicating with contacts as well as forthcoming trips.
At the end of the day, it is user acceptance that determines the success of an IT solution. That’s why it is essential to raise the levels of staff satisfaction and productivity in using the digital workplace, and consequently make it easier to collaborate with colleagues and customers. Email solutions of the future should, as a consequence, not only be easy and flexible to use from any device and adaptable to meet new requirements, but in the best case also function as all-round solutions for organizing the office management.