Redesigning E-mail: 6 Features That Need Re-Thinking

Depending on who you ask, e-mail has been around for between 30 and 40 years. Its value is obvious, with applications spanning across both social and professional aspects of life. What’s also apparent, however, is how outdated e-mail technology really is. In many ways, e-mail is being retrofitted to remain relevant to the growing needs of today’s users.

But how often can you tinker with something before you admit that maybe its time has passed? When you start examining the pitfalls of e-mail and identify areas of improvement, you start to realize how different an ‘e-mail 2.0’ would be if it was built and launched today. What features would be included or improved? And what would be left out? Would its new design lend itself to other applications?

If we were to recreate e-mail today, here are six foundations that would serve as the new e-mail platform. I don’t know about you, but if I could use this system, I’d be one happy and more efficient camper…

No more email addresses

Our inboxes are absolutely cluttered. Actually, according to the Radicati Group, 84% of e-mail received today is spam. Because this is pretty simple: e-mail addresses are open. All anyone needs is your email address and ‘voila’ – they are in your inbox. In E-mail 2.0, there would be a permission-based system that has one single identifier. And this identifier would remain as private as one’s mobile number.

Inbox be gone

Once we get the ‘identification’ and permission method for users right, we can get rid of the inbox. Yep, the inbox. E-mail 2.0 would better serve both businesses and customers if each ‘conversation’ or each message thread bypassed a ‘catch all’ kind of bucket, aka the inbox. A direct pipe between a business and its audience members would be a much-welcomed improvement.

Secure interaction

The open nature of email addresses and the barrage of spam also means we have become accustomed to viruses, phishing attempts, and scams. With no integrity, anything than can be ‘charged back’ is prohibited. So, with e-mail 2.0, we’d want to be able to pay bills, sign confidential documents and assign over intellectual property. This could only happen if a secure, fully encrypted channel were opened between sender and recipient thus ensuring non-repudiation.

Real time communication with accountability

When you send an email message, what happens to it? Is it trashed, caught by the spam filter, read, ignored? The truth is; you don’t know. With e-mail 2.0, accountability and reporting will be front and center. Much like how texting works, our e-mail of the future will be messenger-based and encourage real-time, direct interaction. Always on and always efficient.

Mobility

The rapid growth of mobile suggests it’s probably time for a platform that’s designed solely with mobile-usage in mind. Life is moving much faster than it did 30 years ago and with that, gone are lengthy emails and fancy HTML graphics that serve no purpose. People prefer communicating using only a few words, usually via a chat platform. So e-mail 2.0 would have to ensure better connections; short, timely and designed to be read on a mobile phone no matter where the recipient is in the world.

Attachment phobia

While this could refer to so much in our lives, this specific reference is to the files that are attached to the e-mail sent our way. The average American spends about six minutes per day looking for attachments and files. That translates to three days of lost productivity per year. E-mail 2.0 would no doubt understand what attachments we were receiving and manage them accordingly. File this one there, move that one here. Flag this one for payment etc.

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