Over 100 billion work emails are exchanged each day, but research has suggested that only around a quarter of those are actually essential.
With the increased flexibility of mobile devices to read and respond to emails on the go comes the temptation of attending to issues outside of work hours, but the good news is, there are a range of tools now available on the market to help you take control of your inbox, rather than letting it control you.
Communication technology tools have evolved, using analytics and algorithms to help users sift through the clutter and focus on the most important tasks and communications at hand. Below are a few of these tools, claiming not to be just a new email client on the block, but instead providing a new way of working:
Guided by analytics IBM verse is an intuitive console that analyses your social connections, activities, correspondence patterns and behaviours while you work, bringing to the surface the most important tasks and messages. It blends email, meeting, calendar, file sharing, instant messaging, social update and video chat capabilities within a single environment, without the need to switch back and forth between one window and the other. Whereas other email tools may separate ‘human’ email from automated messages sent by companies, Verse goes that next step by attempting to understand the messages that are most important or urgent and making them more visible. It makes sharing documents with colleagues and posting to social media easier and you can search within the interface to quickly find content by type and topic. The freemium version is currently available on the IMB Verse website.
Inbox by Gmail
Inbox is a new product by Google which bundles messages together into neat categories. It provides generic categories such as promos, purchases and travel and you can also add your own custom categories. Inbox highlights important aspects such as order updates, flight status, reservation details and pictures without the need to even open the email. When you add reminders, Inbox automatically aggregates relevant emails specific to that reminder. When you want to switch off, you can ‘snooze’ messages and reminders for a designated period of time. Inbox is currently freely available by invitation for Gmail users.
Another tool utilising new algorithm technology, Delve learns your behaviours and common actions and highlights key information that it considers to be of interest to you. It decides this based upon previous behaviour, current tasks and the actions of people in your network. Delve connects the user to the relevant documents, conversations and people around you through what’s called the ‘Office Graph’ (see image below) and also supports collaborative working documents. Microsoft Delve is currently available with Office 365 Business Plans.
A word of warning
It probably goes without saying that these applications are unlikely to integrate well with each other. This won’t be a problem in you’re working in an organisation where all of your colleagues are using the same email management and collaboration tool. In this case, sharing and collaborating on documents has never been easier, but what happens if you bring in a contractor in the mix? Well chances it will be difficult for them to collaborate effectively with you without also signing up for the email management tool you’re collaborating on.
If archiving and records management is an important part of your work day, it’s also worth test driving these tools to see how well they perform with this crucial task.