E-Mail @ 30

30 Years Of E-Mail Changes the Enterprise

Business has always been in a hurry, so companies are quick to adopt the fastest communications methods available. Electronic mail is now a vital component of daily operations. Marking the 30th anniversary of Internet e-mail, we have to ask: How did we ever do business without it?

"Both from a personal and a business standpoint, e-mail has revolutionized how we do business," said Brian Brylow, senior vice president at Robert W. Baird & Co. a financial services firm in Milwaukee.

"What used to take days or weeks is now delivered in 10 seconds anywhere around the globe," he continued, adding that "e-mail is much cheaper, delivering documents and attachments in seconds at no cost instead of using expensive overnight delivery services."

E-mail hasn't created the paperless office, but it has helped. "Certainly there are no more internal memos on paper," said Dan Black, director of e-commerce systems at United Networks, a wholly owned subsidiary of United Air Lines Inc. in Chicago. He said it has also changed the way we communicate. "It's actually deformalized the way we communicate. Formerly you'd take a lot of time to compose a letter, but now people write an e-mail [using incomplete] sentences. . . [It's] not necessarily better, but [it's] quicker for sure."

E-mail beats the telephone because it can connect people separated not only by space but also by time. E-mail encourages the fast turnaround of ideas and opinions, and it makes possible extended discussions between people who aren't in physical proximity. "For deferred interaction, e-mail is king," said Vinton Cerf, senior vice president of Internet architecture and technology at WorldCom Inc.

Add in wireless e-mail on handheld devices, said Brylow, and it's clear that "e-mail is now the personal communication medium that you can take anywhere."

But e-mail is neither as fleeting nor as private as might be suggested by the way most users dash off their messages. "We store every e-mail forever," said Black. "It's archived to tape automatically, whether the end user deletes it on the PC or not."

Thus, e-mail represents a vast and indiscriminate corporate memory, determinedly holding on to everything that passes through it.

In regulated industries like financial services, e-mail archiving is mandated. "The biggest problem," said Brylow, "is the need to keep a copy of everything." Besides archiving, he said, "this requires systems that let an end user create an acknowledgement or reply, then determine whether it is safe to distribute."

The Dark Side

Spam, that never-ending mass of unwanted electronic junk mail, has become a large enough problem that a whole industry has been developed to help organizations filter out and block such communications. Other productivity impediments include time-consuming personal e-mail and the way people copy and mass-forward jokes and images to everyone they know.

Also, e-mail's turnaround speed is a mixed blessing. Immediate responses can be intemperate. It's so easy to press the Send button, even accidentally, but generally impossible to call back a message once it's been sent.

M. Lewis Temares, vice president, CIO and dean of the school of engineering at the University of Miami in Florida, said that "in some ways, [e-mail] has impeded communication, because executives sometimes make arrangements and commitments and forget to tell or check with their administrators."

Just the sheer number of e-mail messages can be a problem. David Ferris, president of Ferris Research Inc., a San Francisco-based analyst firm specializing in communications and collaboration technologies, pointed out that "e-mail overload can get people out of control."

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Why E-Mail Works Well

• It’s a push technology: It comes to you.

• It waits for you: It’s asynchronous.

• It’s one-to-many: It lets you communicate with many people at once.

• It’s almost free: Text-based communication is very inexpensive.

Source: http://livinginternet.com/e/ep.htm

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Three decades of e-mail change the enterprise

E-mail has profoundly changed the way we do business.

Managing the messaging deluge

As e-mail has matured from being an executive toy to a mission-critical technology, administering messaging systems has become one of the most complex tasks in the enterprise.

E-Mail security: 'It's the wild, wild, West'

Security is probably the biggest challenge for e-mail administrators, after uptime.

What lies ahead for the messaging enterprise?

Messaging technologies will continue to transform the enterprise by providing rich media, real-time collaboration and much more—including storage and administrative headaches.

History lesson

Who sent the first Internet electronic mail message and came up with the @ sign?

ONLINE EXCLUSIVES:

An Internet pioneer reflects on e-mail

Venton Cerf, one of the co-inventors of TCP/IP, talked to Computerworld senior editor Gary Anthes on e-mail's past and messaging's future.

Case Study: Managing e-mail in academia

How the University of Miami manages the messaging needs of 185,000 students, along with those of professors, administrators and staff.

Society goes online

Internet electronic mail began as a way for scientists to communicate, but it has found its way into everyone's life.

Cutting-edge messaging tools

A list of vendors and their Web sites.

E-Mail History Resource Links

Find out more about e-mail history on the Web.

E-Mail Management, Adminstration and Security Resources

Links to technical specifications, tutorials, news, white papers and more from around the Web.

What do you think?

Share your opinions and memories about how e-mail has changed the way we communicate, and read what others have to say in our online forum.

E-Mail and Groupware Coverage

Continuing Computerworld news and feature coverage of e-mail and groupware.

Copyright © 2001 IDG Communications, Inc.

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