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E-mail at Anchor and Elkay: the postman doesn't ring at all.

Remember the paperless office?


It was once believed that computers

would enable us to work in high-tech offices stripped bare of paper memos, letters and reports. Information would be created, routed, delivered and stored as bits and bytes. What happened, of course, was something

< quite different. In many instances, the computer added to the paper pile, rather than diminished it. But the development of electronic mail seems capable of clearing some of the paper from our desks, while at the same time boosting productivity and efficiency. E-mail is well suited to processing,

< verifying and tracking customer orders and sales information, thereby streamlining customer service. One large manufacturer of sporting goods has issued laptop computers to its outside salespeople, who use the laptops and E-mail to stay in touch with headquarters while on the road. For example, if a customer wants a

< price quote on sweatshirts, the salesperson logs onto the company's E-mail system, browses through a directory of users, and then sends a request for information to a customer-service representative. If the customer also wants to check on a missing order of footballs, the salesperson can leave an E-mail message with another customer-service rep, who will use E-mail to inquire at the warehouse about the order. After a few minutes, both replies are

< received: The sweatshirts are $10.95 each, and the footballs were shipped Wednesday. At the end of the day, the salesperson

< can use E-mail to send a weekly report to the regional manager and can verify tomorrow's sales calls on a personal appointment calendar. In Illinois, Elkay Manufacturing uses <

E-mail to stay on top of orders for its line of sinks, faucets and water coolers. From off-site PCs, Elkay representatives forward over 80% of the company's orders to the customer-service department.

In return, they receive price quotes,

< shipment dates and inventory information. Anchor Glass Container Company in


Tampa, Fla., enhances its customer service through the modifiable user exits available with SYSM, an E-mail system from H&W Computers of Boise, Idaho. One such user exit provides system

< access for vendors and customers, thereby allowing qualified individuals to work directly with the manufacturing plants and with corporate headquarters. According to Sam Leonard, Anchor's

< manager of telecommunications, "Allowing vendors access to the system makes them more like staff members, which is the relationship we want to establish with qualified vendors." Similarly, customers are able to send

< administrative messages, make design-change requests and confirm the status of their orders through electronic mail, any time of the day or night. For all users, E-mail reduces the < amount of time spent contacting clients, colleagues and customers; streamlines and facilitates communications over large distances and across various time zones; and diminishes the amount of paper documents to be typed, filed, sorted and tracked. This last advantage is particularly important,

< for it marks a trend toward electronic document creation, transmission and storage. At publishing giant McGraw-Hill, E-mail

< opened the door to electronic publishing--in this case, a series of on-line, information-retrieval services. Essentially electronic magazines, the

< services gather information, then use E-mail to distribute it to subscribers. One such service specializes in reporting on the energy field; its primary subscribers are oil traders and others from the oil and energy industry. Such on-line retrieval services are nothing < new, of course; but until E-mail became available on a large scale, gaining access to these services usually meant working directly with a modem, often an intimidating, confusing, error-ridden process. But because most E-mail systems are < menu-driven, user-friendly applications, user bases are expected to grow dramatically in the years to come. With expanded user bases, such electronic-publishing < possibilities as a personal newspaper would contain articles from newspapers, journals and magazines around the world, tailored to your specified interests. E-mail can free us from much of the

< repetitive drudgery that paper documents entail; as such, it is perhaps our best bet for realizing that initial dream of the computer age: the paperless office. With E-mail, you might yet sit down

< to a desk littered with no more paper than the napkin beneath your morning danish.

COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
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Title Annotation:Manufacturing; use of electronic mail systems at Anchor Glass Container Company, Elkay Manufacturing
Publication:Communications News
Date:May 1, 1992
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