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E-mail is dead ... long live e-mail! Despite reports of its demise, e-mail--and applications and tools for e-mail--is flourishing.

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REPORTS OF E-MAIL'S FALL HAVE been greatly exaggerated, to paraphrase Mark Twain.

If you've read news about the state of e-mail anytime in the past year, you might have formed the impression that this ubiquitous mode of communication is nevertheless drawing its last breath. Headlines proclaiming, "9 Reasons E-mail Is Dead" and "Why E-mail No Longer Rules ..." abounded last year. Story after story announced that social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook now ran the town. End of story. Or was it?

Although proclamations to the contrary have been few and far between, e-mail is alive and kicking, says James Bond, vice president of software and product development at Apptix (www. apptix.com), a worldwide provider of hosted Microsoft Exchange e-mail, SharePoint, and voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP. "We live and breathe e-mail as the base platform of our corporate existence," he asserts. "Anyone who would say e-mail is dead clearly isn't using it in the business world."

Further, says Bond, with developments such as Google Wave (an application that merges e-mail, instant messaging, wikis, and social networking) and Google Buzz (which enhances Google's Gmail service), e-mail is poised to shift the communications landscape on the personal and business fronts. "E-mail is changing," he notes. "It will meld with IM and other interactive tools."

All Eyes (and Ears) on E-mail

News of e-mail's impending demise came as no surprise to Lisa S. Jones, founder and CEO of EyeMail Inc. (http://eyemailinc.com), an electronic marketing and communications technology company in Atlanta. EyeMail Inc. develops customized marketing strategies and campaigns that deliver audio and video content in any language via e-mail.

Jones doesn't agree with the notion that e-mail is dead, but understands the basis for that perception. "It's the lack of personalization traditional e-mail offers and the inability of e-mail to evolve," she points out. "The power of social media is its ability to keep growing and evolving, and that has forced the re-examination of e-mail."

Launched in 2007, EyeMail Inc. has developed e-mail communication strategies and campaigns for clients such as The Coca-Cola Co., Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and Turner Broadcasting System Inc., a Time Warner company. EyeMail Inc. posted revenues of $300,000 in 2009, and 2010 revenues are projected to exceed $1 million.

Among the company's products is the 2.i model in beta development, the EyeMail self-service portal that allows clients to log in, customize, upload, and create their own EyeMails in minutes. In Microsoft's Mentor Protege program for long-term development of the EyeMail technology, the company is planning future releases, including 3.i EyeMail mobile. Jones is also adapting the 2.i model across multiple e-mail platforms. Additionally, the company released EyeMail Canada last year, EyeMail Brazil last month, and will soon launch EyeMail Africa.

E-mail and Social Media

For Jones, the answer to the question "Is e-mail dead?" is an unqualified "no." But she likens the current engagement with e-mail to watching silent films: "It's a cold, impersonal experience that lacks emotion. But adding the power of audio and video to e-mail provides the natural ability to capture attention and inspire calls to action. We live in a world of personalization all around us and should expect nothing less from our e-mail communications."

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In a blog post, "Is Social Media Impacting How Much We E-mail?" nielsenwire's Jon Gibs, vice president of media analytics, showed that, based on the results of a small Nielsen experiment, "social media use makes people consume e-mail more, not less, as [Nielsen] had originally assumed."

This makes sense, says Jones. Like Apptix's Bond, Jones sees promise in tools such as Google Buzz and believes EyeMail would integrate perfectly with a variety of social media platforms. "This would enable social media users to send enhanced, personalized audio and video messaging via the EyeMail platform, without the recipient having to click a URL to view content via e-mail," she says.

Bond agrees that e-mail and social media tools can be complementary, but he has some reservations. Certain tools as they currently exist are simply not suited to a corporate platform, he says. "Most businesses don't accept IM as a business solution. You can't always audit and track it. From a corporation's viewpoint, people still assume you're talking to friends and family and not working." Still, employee use of such applications has spurred companies to find ways to integrate some tools into the existing infrastructure while maintaining control and addressing compliance concerns.

Is e-mail dead? Far from it. But like an aging rock star who recognizes that he must adapt to remain relevant, e-marl, too, is changing--with a little help from its social media friends.

EYEMAIL IS AMONG THE COMPANIES CREATING DYNAMIC E-MAIL FEATURES.
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Title Annotation:TECH NEWS
Author:Donaldson, Sonya A.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2010
Words:787
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