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Monday, September 24, 2007

Transparency = Accountability = Strength

Sonian is all about "changing the conversation" between messaging technology vendor and the audience of IT departments who look to us to solve their archive problem. It's our challenge to communicate openly and in a way that really hasn't been seen before in this industry. This mode of communication awareness is called transparency, and it's inspired by the open source way of thinking.

It's time for vendors to engage in honest conversation about email's current "state of affairs." There needs to be a more open dialog between messaging vendor and customer. For too long the allied e-messaging industries haven't served core customer needs. Add to that customers haven't demanded more accountability from their e-messaging vendors either. Vendors play the feature-creep leap frog game with each other, rather than listen to what customers want in a product. As an example, over the past year we have talked to many unhappy "legacy technology " archive customers who complain (rightfully so) the current archive technologies are too complicated and too expensive to operate. Organizations are looking for a simpler, more elegant way to solve the archive issue. Spending six figures for software license fees and a full-time IT person salary to manage an installed archive platform is not the way to solve this problem in 2007 and beyond.

Recently there has been an "up tick" in e-messaging market activities. Yahoo! acquiring Zimbra and Xobni's big debut are two recent email events getting media and market attention. Om Malik wrote a post on his blog calling email the original social network. But these are recent exceptions to the rule. In general, except for SPAM and the occasional email-borne virus outbreak coverage, the mainstream media pays little attention to email issues. Yet email is still the most used and most critical communication infrastructure available to us. And we as consumers tolerate a lot of pain around email.

Over the summer there was a blog-o-sphere vibe predicting traditional email's demise in favor of IM and social network communication systems. The basic sentiment can be summed up in the phrase "Email is like your daddy's Oldsmobile." Meaning while email may get the job done, it's not cool or interesting. It has been predicted that the newly minted information workers entering the workforce will prefer the informal nature of Facebook-o-grams and IM over "old-fashioned" email. A shift away from email as we know it today will eventually occur (but not to Facebook,) and who can blame the younger generation from shunning email when you consider all the problems (SPAM!) that plague our efficient use of this platform.

We all need to ask, and keep asking of ourselves, "is this the best we can do?" - for ourselves and our customers.

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