Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I don't care if the world knows my secrets

Hat tip to +Towleroad , a lovely new video from +Mary Lambert  of "Same Love" fame (another song I absolutely love).

As my mother used to say: "Don't do anything you could get blackmailed for.". To which I add my corollary, apparantly Mary's as well: "Unless you own it and go public with it."

Makes me think about Marketing in an increasingly transparent world. Instead of puffery and near unambiguous emphasis on the positive, what if we marketed our products warts and all?

It wouldn't be fair if I didn't share my own secret first. I use food as an emotional blanket, even though I know it really doesn't work. So tell me, what are YOUR secrets?

Monday, July 14, 2014

A company without email? (a followup: the death of 'the death of email')

A followup to my earlier post about what is hopefully the death of "the death of email". Two new analyst reports have come out recently that bolster my viewpoint that we're entering an time of quantum evolution of email. Instead of incremental improvements, we're seeing the rise of a complete rethinking of email in this new social, mobile, cloud world.

One recent report by Osterman Research, Evolving towards the next phase of email (free registration required), talks about the specific environment email needs to change into:

The conventional wisdom is that email is being replaced by social media and other, next generation communication and collaboration tools. The reality, however, is that email use continues to grow...Email will remain the dominant communications tool in the workplace, but it will evolve in a variety of ways toward completely transparent accessibility across all delivery modes and platforms, an embedded application experience that will enable users to work with applications in the context of the email experience, and greater integration of social capabilities within email.

Another report by Forrester, When mobile becomes the new face of social, may at first blush seem unrelated, as it is about social messaging apps for smartphones. But messaging is very similar to short-burst email (think Facebook Messages or Linkedin InMail), and their intersection with mobile, cloud, and social platform is very much related to the thesis that email itself is entering a next stage of evolution:

Messaging apps have the potential either to become digital platforms or to significantly enhance the power of current platforms because they so clearly deliver the three things that determine digital platform power: frequent interactions, emotional connection, and convenience. 
You can learn more how IBM is looking at addressing this quantum evolution with IBM Mail Next, at our July 23 webcast.

What do you think? Where do YOU see email headed?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A company without email? Hardly.

Its days like this when I love my work: the intersection of marketing and collaboration technology sometimes just hits all cylinders. Like today. An old story was brought back to life with a new story.

The old story: ever since the dawn of social networks -- whether consumer or commercial -- and more recently with the Enterprise 2.0 trend (one of those terms that seems to have disappeared from the lexicon, and replaced with Social Business or other terms), the death of email has been trumpeted over and over again.

That's the inevitable trend of things in this world of 24-hour, instantaneous news cycles:

  1. new thing hits the market
  2. revolution is in the air
  3. _____________ is dead! Long live _____________!
  4. New thing turns out to be not quite the solution everyone thought it would be
  5. New thing actually has real use cases completely different than what it was supposed to kill
  6. Old thing still quite alive and kicking, but not sexy anymore
  7. new thing hits the market / rinse / lather / repeat
The e-mail is dead meme resurfaced a couple of years ago with high profile instances like Atos' CEO making a bold claim to completely eliminate email from his workplace (how did that work out?).

I've been saying for quite some time that the stats don't bear this narrative out. The new story is that people are recognizing this again.

Mail is still by far the #1 used collaboration tool in business. It's use is actually GROWING, not shrinking. And now comes this timely little article in the Wall Street Journal (hardly the paragon of the cutting edge, and therefore a good barometer of the mass market). What's fascinating about the Wall Street Journal article is the description of what startups are actually doing. It's less about eliminating email and more about fast experiments on rethinking it for a more social, mobile, cloud-based world. They're just scratching the surface of how to rethink email.

Rethinking email is something IBM has been doing since introducing version 8.5 of it's venerable Notes and Domino franchise. 8.5 introduced deeper integration of social network profiles, microblogging and filesharing through its integrated sidebar applications. Version 9 took that concept a step further with in-mail embedded integration of pretty much any OpenSocial enabled content - status update streams, file and video previews, forms, heck, pretty much anything you could put an OpenSocial wrapper on.

And IBM continues that with an even bolder step coming later this year, IBM Mail Next. If you think of Notes 8.5 and 9 as variations on an existing theme, think of Mail Next as an entirely new movement. Hints of the email of old morph and merge in ways that Millenials in particular would appreciate and understand more:

  • not folders, but sets and fast and faceted search (like your favorite e-commerce site or search engine)
  • not first-in/first-out, but what's important to me right now
  • not an overfilled inbox-as-todo-list, but conversation threads that bob and weave with my workload and workday
  • not dumb, preset rules (can you really call those "smart folders"???) but rather built-in intelligence that learns from my own behavior to help me prioritize what I owe someone and what they owe me.
It's interesting as a marketer to be in a space where the new and the old are coming together in such a fascinating way. It's going to be a fun rest of 2014.