Going where the users are? Email + Microblogging

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Hmm. I’m not entirely convinced about this, however there is an argument that if you want to ease the introduction of new information work practices into people’s work routines then you need to go where the users are. I was a big fan of Xobni when I was last using Outlook regularly. However Twitter and LinkedIn are very different paradigms to integrate into Outlook – Xobni augments what you are already doing in Outlook with additional information, but tools like Twinbox (the example above) is introducing a brand new information stream in parallel to email.

I also wonder if integration with an enterprise microblogging tool might actually be the better use case for this kind of integration? For example, Socialcast is an enterprise microblogging platform and they have talked about providing plugins for Outlook and Lotus Notes (I’m not sure if they actually came to fruition).

On the other hand, Socialtext’s Signals takes a non-email activity stream approach. Their desktop applications (a cross platform RIA) combines microblogging with notifications about wiki page edits, blog posts, comments, profile changes.

What do you think? Is an email client the right place for enterprise users to learn about microblogging or are we just reinforcing the email interface. Or perhaps we should just give people as much choice as possible?

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4 thoughts on “Going where the users are? Email + Microblogging

  1. I think email is a good integration point for microsharing. Email is the tool of choice for the information worker. Sure, we hate email. But it’s the lifeblood of most workplaces. Sure we want to “reduce email volumes” and claim ROI from that. But when you talk to real people in real companies, they are addicted to their email box. So I believe that hooks into email are a great idea (in theory). The problem is that Outlook is quite a difficult canvas to hang plug-ins (for both technical and procedural reasons) and Gmail (which would be a better canvas for this art) has little penetration in the corporate workplace. So this is a difficult problem to solve. But I like the approach that recognizes the reality that email is here to stay (whether we like it or not) for quite a while. Getting people to another application will work for some of use (like those who are used to twitter, Facebook-email, Linkedin-email, etc.) But it’s hardly an ideal story. We ought to be making life simpler for the information worker. Giving them “yet another” place to collaborate is a tough model to scale.To make this work, we may need to reconsider the email client. The big hitch is that Outlook is more than emails — it does calendaring (something that most E2.0 tools have not yet addressed). So I think we have a few things to work out first. — Just my opinion.

  2. I have to agree with Gil’s comment that an email client is the best place to introduce the microsharing Enterprise tools and that Outlook is not the ideal tool. i guess that this opens up an opportunity window for creation of the next Enterprise dashboard and the SocialText Desktop is setting the bar for that, if it had offered IMAP integration we would have not had this discussion would we?

  3. This reminds me of the old email vs portal battles of the past. But following the same logic, even when we put email into the portal, email won out because the usability and efficacy of a desktop tool at that time. Fast forward to today… if I was given a choice, I’d go with Gmail’s Web interface over a desktop tool anytime. So, I wonder if Web can win out over desktop (if not win out over email entirely)? BTW I see Yammer has joined the Outlook party now too.

  4. I’m with Gil. Great comment. I wrote about this topic several times on my blog. In the past I was more strict. I’d say something like: If you don’t integrate with the email client – indeed, the primary workplace of a knowledge worker! – you’re doomed. Now, I’m finding myself using tools like Tweetdeck for tweeting instead of an Outlook plugin for tweeting. The question I answer is: If the service has enough added-value I use a separate one, else integrate in email.But I agree with Gil that for employees that find it hard to build routines in their workschedule to really adopt a new tool, please integrate in email. At least they’ll see the tool daily in their email client and be reminded to tweet, blog, etc.

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