How do we move away from email?

I started this thread as a response to Andrew McAfee’s blog. http://andrewmcafee.org/2009/10/how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-email/ .

There I shared the following thoughts on moving away from email:

I am living the truce with email, but I do think that email will act like a ball and chain on moving toward what could be, and what I think we agree will eventually be.

I think that the mindset for email should be as one to be used as a private communications path, with suggested replacement when possible with private chat and private messaging within chat for asynchronous discussion.

I think one thing we could do to move willing organizations toward limiting email and moving in the direction of other tools would be to disable attachments within email. Replacing them with links to documents in a document management system that is optimized for the media being linked too, (be it images, documents, video etc…). There are some added side benefits to this decision, reduction of the number of the same documents and the associated confusion over updates versions, and changes. There are other benefits, but I won’t go on about that.

A follow on move may be to declare that email will begin to be indexed and made searchable/discoverable unless it is flagged as personal and private. Encouraging employees to use private chat and chat messages for most of the personal exchanges that take place. This would enable us to start to use the email text strings (now without actual documents embedded). Maybe then email might not be “where knowledge goes to die” as you so appropriately put it. These emails (now text files) can indexed along with chat room logs (non private) and other text based tools as well. One additional thing would be that it may basically force a lot of people to review what they have, and delete those that are no longer worthwhile, thereby reducing total storage allocated to email from 20 years ago. (Can you believe some people are proud of that fact?)

The other uses of email would eventually need to be replaced with arguably better tools as well. Take for example the task list function, or the integrated calendar, meeting makers and the rest of the functionality we have come to love. Until we can point to a better solution in those areas as well, this is going to continue to be an uphill battle.

Then there are the customers and clients, we can change our internal methods and processes, but what about how we interact with our customers?

All good questions, but I just realized I started this long ago, and forgot to publish and finish it (busy).

Lastly, I will say that if you or your customers like Firefox as your browser, then linking your documents to Sharepoint is not the direction to go. They are only open for editing in Internet Explorer.

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