It’s time to rethink how our business applications communicate with the people they serve. The mail paradigm is not just old, it is centuries old. I can think of some software companies already leveraging “clean” communication channels. Newton Software just became another.
Email and Twitter: A Collision of Garbage Trucks, a Beautiful Disaster or a Glimpse of the Future? By: Joel Passen, Head of Marketing, Newton Software, makers of popular, easy-to-use applicant tracking software. I would guess that, like a lot of people, 98% of my snail mail goes straight into the recycle bin. I’ve tried GreenDimes and 41pounds.org but it seems that marketers continue to find a ways to kill trees and burn oil in order to send me information about stuff I don’t want. As far as I can tell, I get two important pieces of snail mail: save the date notices and stuff from the IRS. In the last 90 days, I’ve received one non-spam piece of snail mail. Snail mail is the de facto the vehicle by which people I don’t know and don’t trust attempt to communicate with me. Snail mail is a muddy communication mechanism. Sadly, email isn’t much different anymore. Yet amazingly nearly every business application on the planet goes to great lengths to integrate with email (or tries). In fact, the single greatest technical ulcer-causer of any software web-based application is Outlook integration. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that email integration isn’t necessary. I’m just wondering if email’s dual-dominance of both the trusted and muddy communication channels is anachronistic. Why are messages from people and applications I know and trust being dumped into an unorganized file with untrusted messages? Why are critical alerts comingling with people trying to sell me email lists or consultants from overseas? If you’re like me, your inbox is more like a “what do I do first?” box. I have documentation from my product team, invoices from vendors, people trying to sell me things, messages from dad, and most importantly, messages from my our applicant tracking software customers (which always get answered immediately I might add). Many of these messages are coming from systems that are trying to boost my productivity: manage finances, complete projects, follow up with people and track progress. In essence, my productivity applications are taking their trusted communications (messages I definitely want to read) and dumping them into a message mud bog, then trying to clean them up after I deal with them. Email needs a redo. How did I come to this conclusion? Well, from a disclosure standpoint I have to admit that integrating with Outlook is really hard and pretty darn scary, and even though at Newton we’re probably going capitulate in some areas, we really don’t want to. Developers of software can control the reliability of their own environment, but once you start relying on someone else’s system you start touching all sorts of things you can’t control. That’s why every time someone says “integrates with outlook” they never use the words “easily” or “never breaks” or “no plug-in required” in the same sentence. Here’s a simple guide to probably the most integrated outlook application on the planet: http://tinyurl.com/cf6dae. This is the apparently shorter, “cheatsheet version”. But, more important to me than the technical hurdles is this nagging belief that email might be the problem, not the solution. Actually, I’m not even sure it’s the problem. I’m just starting to think that there’s a better path to productivity than dumping important messages into an uncontrolled, unorganized inbox and then forwarding them around like crazy, all the while trying to clean, reabsorb and reorganize them back into the system that created them. Why doesn’t Twitter need email integration? Is it only because it’s a consumer application? Or is it because they are communicating with you by way of channels you already trust? I think it’s the latter. It’s time to rethink how our business applications communicate with the people they serve. The mail paradigm is not just old, it is centuries old. I can think of some software companies already leveraging “clean” communication channels. Newton Software just became another. In a few short weeks, we’re going to release a utility in Newton simply called “Tracking”. We’ll release more details on “Tracking” as we get closer to the release date. In the meantime, think “Twitter feed” for your recruiting program. This isn’t just any “Twitter feed”. This is a personalized source of the information that you want to see and need to see. It will be the only feature of its kind in the applicant tracking software world. This is a glimpse of the future.
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