I came to a revelation of sorts earlier in the week.
Email apps, not web apps, represent New Web for the enterprise. I suppose you could say Enterprise 2.0, but if you’ve been with me for a while, you know I steer clear of that term.
Work requires communication above all else. No communication, no work. Whether it’s meetings or phone calls, email or IM, communication at work is a requirement. Email is the method of choice for work communication, and it’s been that way for more than a decade now, depending on the industry.
The browser is also a necessity for a lot of people, but it’s not typically used for communication. There are exceptions–micro-blogging, social networks, web mail. Generally speaking though, the browser is used to collect information, and if it’s used for communication, it’s not the primary tool. There’s always an email account there somewhere.
So, web apps, like Connect, that aim to help people collaborate on work in new ways represent a destination, or more accurately, another destination.
This is a frequent complaint about Connect, and I get why. I don’t know about other companies, but we have a ton of internal apps that serve many different purposes. So, I understand that people would be bummed to have to use another app and remember another destination.
Even though Connect does a better job at many work-related tasks than email, I’ve learned to embrace email, rather than try to ween everyone off it.
So, our focus for email integration with Connect has been both to meet the needs (group digest emails, subscribe to threads, notifications) and extend Connect as an email app (post by email, comment by email)
Replacing email is a pipe dream.
The good news is that a bunch of ingenious apps have shown how email can be used as a web app client. I’m calling these email apps for the time being. You’ve heard about them here in the past: Sandy (now defunct), TripIt, Posterous, and a new one, Liaise, launched this week at DEMO.
Liaise is pretty slick, although only for Outlook (ick) currently. Check out the demo.
Soon, you can add Google Wave to that list. Wave promises to provide a platform for even more email apps; in fact, Anthony seems pretty confident he could build a Liaise-type project app with Wave.
So, what do you see in your company? Are people generally open to trying new Web/Enterprise 2.0 web apps? Or do they want to stay in their email? Do you think working with email as the client makes sense? Or should development be focused in web apps, adding email as an afterthought?
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