Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I got a message now what?

I got to thinking while reviewing the latest Exchange Beta, "why make it easier to keep things in the Inbox?".

The Inbox is the most unstructured quagmire of information people manage (I would even argue over the OS file system). $.07 bet anyone? The fact that information is mainly intended to come inbound to an Inobx hampers activities such as content management, compliance and a litteny of others.

So...where in the new Exchange, functions such as autoarchiving, searching, routing control, encryption and auditing are important; the most important feature would be easily moving this data from my unstructured Inbox to a more structured application to be managed. We did the genesis of this a long time ago in Notes (e.g. move a message to a calendar entry or task or another db). I also know that the extensions in Notes and Outlook make this possible to program (i.e. we did this at Groove to move messages from Outlook to a Groove space but unfortunately that was taken away with the latest release). The point though is that this needs to be made easier for businesses to implement, should have more emphasis placed on it and should be more out of the box. Give me a generic target on disk where I can register something similar to an XSLT++ that defines a path, transport and data migration to move things from the Inbox to a target. Then allow me to embed that in the message window. Then for goodness sake ship some of them out of the box. Every messaging company has plenty of targets that they could pre-program.

More emphasis should be placed on the Inbox being viewed as a temporary holding spot instead of the eternal dumping ground. When things come in, act upon what needs action and place the information in the right context and then discard or archive what is left. Maybe it is that people get too many messages that makes this behavior unrealistic or maybe it is the fact that they have no other option but to just take the message and file it away.

I remember my mom used to tell me "when you have something in your hand it takes just as much work to put in the right place as the wrong place". Now I didn't buy into that much as a teenager. I only somewhat buy into it as an adult usually because I have to pick it up later anyway and that's the point! After someone opens, reads a message and puts it in a folder do you really think they are going to go back once a week and say "hmmm....what needs to be done with this to ensure compliance?". Someone needs to figure out the Interact/Act model to capture the users attention when they first open a message to say "this needs to be placed in context".


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