How to move from Email to Social without moving at all


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At work virtually all of us work with email. At present it is the default and defacto method of communication. We probably also all recognize its shortcomings when it comes to working together with other people. It is intended as a means of messaging primarily between two individuals but over time, of course, we get emails copied to us for various purposes.

Being on the receiving end of an email which is copied to you, or blind copied is a decision which (it’s likely) the sender has made – not you. You may well be grateful to receive such an email but in my experience my inbox gets filled with the information other people think I will want to know about.

Moving to a more socially-collaborative working environment allows me to be more selective about the information I want to receive. By “following” a person, a community, a document or some other aspect of an enterprise social network I can choose to be updated about something I care about, rather than be on the receiving end of a firehose of information sent by other people.

Moving into this social nirvana can be a difficult process for many people. Email, after all, is really just the electronic manifestation of the paper office – electronic memos have replaced the paper memos we would receive. Folders in our mailboxes have replaced the filing cabinets which populated our offices. This deeply-embedded habit is something which we digital immigrants, those who were born before the internet arrived, are struggling to change these habits.

I have written a lot in this blog and elsewhere about methods of adoption – ways you can organise projects and your working groups to ease the transition to being more co-operative, collaborative and open in your day to day work. Some people, however, still see this as too big a step to take. They are not prepared to take the extra effort of changing to get the benefit. So how can we help these individuals move into a better working situation in smaller and more easily digestible bites?

One way is to make use of the social extensions available for IBM Notes and Microsoft Outlook. These extend social capabilities offered by IBM Connections into the email software to enhance the experience and start to introduce more “social” features the users might benefit from. If you are a Notes user you most likely have free entitlement to use the Files and Profiles features of Connections inside Notes as part of your Notes software subscription.

The diagram below illustrates the concept of socializing the email environment in small, but deliberate steps:Slide1

Starting with the centre of the diagram, people are working with Email.  

The next move outward introduces the concept of Status Updates and File Sharing.  

Status Updates IBM Notes

Next out is “Embedded Experience” where users can access social features of IBM Connections from within IBM Notes:

Files Hans Erik Ballangrud has shared WinPlan DSD Q2 2014 doc with you IBM Notes

With Embedded Experiences the user interface of IBM Connections is brought into the email experience of IBM Notes.  Notice that I can comment, like and perform other “social” tasks right within the email I’ve received, without leaving IBM Notes.

Finally, Communities and Social Tools can be presented using the embedded browser of Notes, so the user remains in the Notes client, or you can move to a fully browser-based experience:

Activities IBM Notes

Don’t forget that IBM Connections also has “Connections Mail” which connects the Connections environment back to the email world (Domino or Exchange):


Over the next few posts I will look more closely at moving out from Email but staying in your email client.  I want to show that introducing social features like status updates and embedded experiences can enhance the email user’s working life without ramming the word “social” down their throats.  

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Alan Hamilton
I believe social business is a new way for organizations of all sizes to form stronger working relationships within themselves and with their customers and partners. By demonstrating how any organization can become more open, responsible, compassionate and flexible I can show that staff and customer satisfaction increases, morale improves and better business results come.


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