November 27, 2007

Email and Enterprise Architecture

How many emails a day is enough?

The Wall Street Journal, 27 November 2007 reports that we are all being inundated with email and it is only going to get worse.

On average, the corporate email user received 126 messages a day last year, up 55% from 2003.

Moreover, “by 2009, workers are expecting to spend 41% of their time just managing emails.”

Further, by 2011, the average number of corporate emails sent and received per person, per day is expected to hit 228!

According to Microsoft, users fall into two general categories for how they handle all the email:

  1. Filers—“strive to have an empty inbox at the end of the day”
  2. Pilers—“the super-messy desk people. They’ve got 5,000 emails in their inbox, most of them unread”

One new novel architecture approach to help manage email is based on a product from Seriosity, as follows:

“Attent™ with Serios™ is an enterprise productivity application inspired by multiplayer online games. It tackles the problem of information overload in corporate email using psychological and economic principles from successful games. Attent creates a synthetic economy with a currency (Serios) that enables users to attach value to an outgoing email to signal importance. It gives recipients the ability to prioritize messages and a reserve of currency that they can use to signal importance of their messages to others. Attent also provides a variety of tools that enable everyone to track and analyze communication patterns and information exchanges in the enterprise.” (

So for example, users may get 100 serios at the start of the week, and they get more when others send them messages. They allocate these serios to each message they send. “A message asking some if he or she wants to go out for lunch might carry a value of three ‘serios’ of virtual currency; [while] a message about an important customer with an urgent problem might get 30 serios. In this way, we try “to get people to send fewer message, or just more relevant ones.”

From a User-centric EA perspective, having senders designate the importance of messages is a wonderful idea to help receivers gauge relative importance and need to read. This is an improvement over the basic Microsoft Outlook capability that enables users to simply mark something with a “!” as important or not.

The Seriosity product is a good example of how technology can meet emerging business requirements, even when it involves managing hundreds of emails a day.


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