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Email needs transformation, not tweak: IBM

Speaking at the TechLines forum discussing the future of email, IBM general manager Lotus Software and WebSphere Portal Alistair Rennie said that just fiddling with current email platforms wasn't going to meet market needs.
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Written by Suzanne Tindal, News Editor on

Speaking yesterday at the TechLines forum discussing the future of email, IBM general manager Lotus Software and WebSphere Portal Alistair Rennie said that just fiddling with current email platforms wasn't going to meet market needs.

Alistair Rennie

Alistair Rennie with Intel's Genevieve Bell on the panel (Credit: Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet Australia)

Although the inbox was important to people's lives and it wasn't going away, it needed to change, and that change shouldn't just be a facelift, according to Rennie.

"Our view is that the world is not going to prosper by moderate tweaks in email," he said.

New concepts were needed to make the platform more accessible for business processes and introduce social-networking and analytical elements, he said.

Filters have lagged behind people's needs, according to Rennie, which can end in emails being lost.

Earlier he had talked about the need for filtering mechanisms, which put email into context, helping people prioritise what's in their inbox.

In the morning, there might be 200 emails in an inbox, he said, but what's important might be the sixtieth email.

He believed that systems need to be intelligent enough to be able to put that email at the front for the user.

"What's important to me fist thing Monday morning is going to be different to Friday night," he said, adding that people needed to be able to set account profiles and time profiles, making their inbox tuneable and trustable.

However, he admitted that there might be many different ways for people to want to use their email. "Us telling people the best way to collaborate is crazy." He said that people should be given tools to experiment.

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