The Social Enterprise Blog

4 Ways to Eliminate the Dreaded ‘Reply All’ Response

By BroadVision Blogger in Blog on May 05, 2015

Perhaps more than any other email feature, the “Reply All” button causes the most controversy. Here are just a few examples of how this one, single email feature causes trouble and heartache within an organization:

  • Somebody sends out a rhetorical email, to which no reply is necessary, or it is only necessary to reply to the recipient. Inevitably, two dozen workers “Reply All” and everyone’s in-boxes fill with comments like “Thanks!” or “Got it!” This is an enormous waste of time.
  • Somebody sends out an email, and one worker thinks of a wholly inappropriate comment. Instead of replying only to a buddy, the worker hits “Reply All” and humiliates or infuriates everyone in the organization.
  • Somebody decides to use the organizational email to sell Beanie Babies or find someone to build them a new gazebo. Workers’ in-boxes then fill with emails from people who are interested, yet not informed enough to realize nobody else is.

How can organizations combat this incredible waste of time (and occasional ruckus-maker), the confounded “Reply All” button?

1. Disable the “Reply All” Button

email

Stop pressing the button!

Some software, as well as some savvy IT workers, are able to disable this email feature. While this can make it difficult for some teams to communicate and collaborate via email, there are other options for collaboration. And offices that have disabled the button report that workers are glad it’s gone.

2. Ban the Use of “Reply All” Within the Company

If disabling the button is not possible in your IT environment, some organizations have simply banned the use of “Reply All”. It does take time to break some people from the habit, but it is helpful if consequences are established for those who fail to obey the rules. Consequences should depend on the workplace, but should be enforced consistently in order to be effective at deterring usage.

3. Use a Plug-In Program to Manage “Reply All”

email

They should at least give us a “Do Not Like” button for all their “Reply All’s”.

Some software developers have also created plug-in programs that allow companies to disable the button or to double-check with users who attempt to use it. For example, it can be set to query the user with a message such as, “Are you sure you wish to ‘Reply All’?” This solution at least gives users the opportunity to back out before sending something questionable, and reminds them that they are sending the message out to everyone, not just to the intended recipient.

4. Use a Better Solution Entirely

Tools like Vmoso allow you to personalize the communication “pushed” or “pulled” within a customizable environment. This means users can decide what information they receive and see. For example, users can follow one topic, but remove themselves from another. With access-based sharing (as opposed to copy-based sharing) there is far less redundant information and annoying noise to contend with. This reduces the amount of wasted time and improves workers’ productivity across the organization.

Visit BroadVision.com for a better alternative to the organizational email.

Breaking the E-Mail Habit: How Can Vmoso Help?

By BroadVision Blogger in Blog on April 30, 2015

Email is such an integral part of our everyday lives, it’s hard to picture running a business without it. However, email is not without its flaws. Many companies have tried to find a way to make email communications better or to replace email with something entirely different. But many of these organizations give up after just a few weeks, which isn’t long enough to allow people to make such a drastic change. Can BroadVision’s Vmoso help your business break the email habit?

What’s Wrong With E-Mail?

First, let’s examine what’s flawed about using email. For one, there is a tremendous overload of emails! Email has moved beyond being a useful tool and into a time-waster. The average worker sends out a whopping 78 emails per day, receives another 37, and checks email an average of 37 times each hour. It’s hard to get anything else done with that amount of work just to send, receive, and check for emails.

The second problem with email is accountability. In the news recently, we’ve seen how easily vital information can become lost and users think they’re above accountability. Both Lois Lerner of the IRS and Hillary Clinton of the State Department have gotten in serious trouble over lost emails, wiped email servers, and the appearance that they’ve hidden something from the public.

Email is also limited in the amount of information it can deliver and track. With email, only the senders and recipients are privy to the knowledge, decisions, and conclusions drawn in these communications. Wouldn’t it be more valuable if the important information passed through email was made available to the organization as a whole, particularly the decision makers?

How Can We Resolve These Issues?

Some people believe that adding more functionality and features to the current email system would suffice. Perhaps provide better filters or improve the user interface. Yet these are just band-aid fixes for serious problems.

A more powerful, practical, useful solution is to replace email with a social networking alternative. These tools work much like the social media we know (like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), yet are private and exclusive to the organization. Within this platform, users can pass information — including documents, presentations, audio and video files, etc. — and thereby build a useful and accessible database of knowledge, insight, and actionable advice. Vmoso is such a platform.

How Will Social Networking Integration Replace E-Mail?

The problem is that users are so accustomed to email that it takes time for them to embrace something different. Many companies give up after just three or four weeks, whereas the time it takes for workers to develop new habits can mean months. As stated by BroadVision President and CEO Pehong Chen, “It’s a journey, not a sprint.” Give users time to adapt to social networking and offer them the training and tools necessary to make the transition. With time, patience, and the right platform for enterprise social networking, it can be a success. Visit BroadVision for a powerful social networking platform your business can truly benefit from.

How to Collaborate Effectively with Remote Teams

By BroadVision Blogger in Blog on April 23, 2015

The remote workforce grew a whopping 73 percent between the years 2005 and 2011, and now 77 percent of companies with 2,500 or more employees work remotely at least some of the time. With more workers telecommuting, dispatched to remote worksites, and operating in branches scattered across the nation or the globe, it is imperative to streamline means for communicating with workers who are rarely or never in the office. Here is your guide to effective collaboration among remote teams.

Clearly Define the Remote Worker’s Roles

Remote teams

When you have team members scattered far and wide, you have to provide them with direction and goals to keep them engaged in their work.

Employees who work remotely can actually feel more engaged in their work than those who are always in the office, but this engagement tends to decline when the worker spends more than 20 percent of their time offsite. It is crucial that managers are able to engage workers with clearly defined roles and a specified set of goals. Workers are more likely to remain engaged in their jobs when they understand their role within an organization and have specified goals to meet in order to succeed. Regular communication is crucial for establishing the roles of remote workers and keeping them on track to meet their goals.

Stronger Interpersonal Relationships Foster Stronger Working Relationships

Remote workers

With regular chances to interact with and get to know the in-house staff, remote workers will be more vested in the organization and its success.

Giant companies with a significant remote workforce, such as Yahoo (before the remote working rules changed) and Google, have taught managers that remote workers feel more vested in the organization and are more onboard with the company’s goals when they have at least some face time with their in-office coworkers. In situations where luncheons or other in-person interaction is possible, this is ideal. But online summits and webinars can be effective when in-person time isn’t possible. The goal is to offer as many ways as possible for in-house and remote workers to get to know one another, build strong relationships, and function cohesively as a team.

Get the Right Tools

It’s far better to make use of a few powerful tools for collaboration than to try to use many tools and figure out how to make those tools compatible. For instance, social media tools are helpful in communicating with remote workers, but have certain disadvantages, such as a lack of security. Furthermore, when you try to leverage too many communication tools (like email plus social media, supplemented with chat sessions and phone calls), there is no clear trail of the workflow. This leads to miscommunications and team members missing important messages.

A collaboration tool like Vmoso unifies email, messaging, chat, content sharing, and social networking capabilities into a single app for easy access and a clear view of the workflow. This helps prevent workers from missing important information, and creates a paper trail for management or auditors to follow when tracking the progression of projects. Additionally, Vmoso offers enterprise-level security so that no one outside your staff is tracking your workflows.

The good news is that about 63 percent of remote workers believe that they are actually more productive away from the office. This means that with the right tools and management techniques, your remote workforce can be even more productive and profitable than your in-house employees. Industry experts predict that within a few years, over 40 percent of the workforce will work remotely at least part of the time, making it crucial for businesses to develop policies and procedures and procure the right tools for collaboration now.

10 Ways Your Current Communication Tools Are Wasting Your Time

By Richard Hughes in Blog on April 07, 2015

The way we use communication tools in business today is riddled with inefficiencies and frustrations. When you add up all the time we waste working around these irritations, it makes you realise how long we spend looking for the information we need to do our jobs, rather than actually doing our jobs. A study by McKinsey Global Institute in 2012 estimated that information workers spend 19% of their working week searching for and gathering information.

Here’s a list of 10 ways current tools waste our time – how many of them do you suffer from?

  1. A co-worker sent you some important information you needed. But you can’t remember how they sent it. Was it posted on the intranet? Sent in an email? In a chat on an instant messenger? You search each one, and finally find it in the last place you look.
  2. You’ve just joined a project that’s already underway. The project manager sends you several long email discussions about progress so far and open issues. You have to start at the bottom of each one and work your way up to understand the discussion, filtering out the frequent off-topic diversions.
  3. You’ve been sent a document to review. You read through it and send back your comments. Turns out that the author has already changed the document based on other peoples’ comments, and you were reviewing an old version.
  4. You get an email from your co-worker asking, “did you get the message I sent last Tuesday?” You trawl back through your inbox, spam folder and recycle bin trying to find it.
  5. You’ve been on vacation. You get back and find 600 new messages in your inbox. You spend all day going through them, and find that even after deleting all the spam, most of the messages that are left are parts of discussions that have been entirely resolved while you were away.
  6. You’re on the train on the way back from a customer meeting and receive a question in an email on your smartphone. You know you’ve got the answer in a document on your laptop, but you’ve run out of battery, so can’t get at it until you’re back at the office.
  7. A week ago, you asked 10 people in your department to indicate acceptance of a new company policy. Some of them have done it, others haven’t. You go back through your email working out who has replied, and send reminders to those who haven’t.
  8. You get an instant message from a co-worker saying they’ve shared a document with you on a file-sharing service. You log on to the service, and can’t see the document so you write back saying you don’t have access. Turns out they mistyped your email address when they shared it.
  9. You get a question from someone in the company you’ve never heard of. You’re a little cautious about how to reply because you don’t know them. So you ask your manager who it is; they don’t know either. You write back, politely asking who they are.
  10. You’re out of the office. Your mail app tells you your mailbox is full and can’t receive any new messages. You have to create personal folders on your laptop and download all the messages from your inbox. But you can’t get a reliable connection to the company VPN, so can’t sort it out until you get back to the office.

 

We created Vmoso specifically to address these, and other inefficiencies in the way businesses communicate today. Here’s how Vmoso solves each of the 10 problems.

  1. As an integrated suite of messaging, file-sharing and social networking, Vmoso offers a universal search which will help you find a discussion, whatever format it took place in.
  2. All the replies in a Vmoso discussion are listed in the right order. If you join halfway through, you simply start at the top and read through the discussion to catch up.
  3. Vmoso maintains a version history of each attachment. When you update a file, all references to that file are updated, so everyone can always see the latest version.
  4. Vmoso’s unique system of cross-referencing creates an interconnected web of content – instead of making people go and search, you can just include a direct link to it, even if it’s a specific comment in a discussion.
  5. Vmoso’s activity stream consolidates all replies in a discussion, and highlights those in which you have been explicitly mentioned. So it’s easy to see what you need to read, and what you can leave until later.
  6. Vmoso stores all your content and discussions in the cloud, and makes it available to any connected device, wherever in the world you are.
  7. Vmoso tasks let you quickly determine who’s completed the action they were given, and send reminders to those who haven’t.
  8. Only a unified communication system like Vmoso can offer a truly consistent layer of access control across all types of content.
  9. Every member in Vmoso has a profile, making it easy for you to find out more about them.
  10. All your Vmoso content is stored in the cloud and available to any device.

 

To sign up for Vmoso, click here, or download the iPhone or Android app.

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Email?

By Richard Hughes in Blog on March 19, 2015

Few information workers would argue with the assertion that business use of email is now so far out of control that we need to do something about it. The statistics are so terrifying that they’re scarcely believable – apparently the average employee sends 78 emails a day, receives 37, and checks their email 36 times an hour. But it’s not just a problem of email overload; email’s inherent lack of accountability have contributed at least in part to the downfall of many prominent people including George Entwhistle, James Murdoch and Steven Cohen, and is currently making life uncomfortable for its highest-profile victim yet, Hillary Clinton.
We all know there’s a problem – what we can’t agree on is the solution.

Technology vendors have split into two main schools of thought: one is trying to fix email, the other trying to replace it. The “fix email” camp is layering more functionality, filters and user interface innovations on top of email clients to make it faster and easier to deal with the ever-increasing deluge of messages. The “replace email” camp is creating new communication environments entirely separate from email and all its problems.

At BroadVision we believe that both approaches are doomed to failure.

The “fix email” approach calls to mind the rather clichéd babies in the river parable – making it easier to rescue the proverbial babies from the river, rather than going upstream and stopping people throwing them in.

The “replace email” approach does recognise that superficial innovations to email just disguise the problem rather than really fixing it. But it fails to deal with the uncomfortable reality that email remains the one ubiquitous, global protocol for communication – every company can send and receive email, every connected device you have can send and receive email (OK, so there may be exceptions… just not very many). Creating a new, closed communication environment may be great for the people inside it – not so good when you need to communicate with someone outside it.

Indeed, this is one of the reasons why much of the promise of enterprise social networking remains unfulfilled. For many companies, however much they wanted to move to a new, more efficient, more open way of working, they found it too hard to change employee habits. They ended up being dragged back into the bad old ways of email, because that remains the one guaranteed way of connecting with everyone.

That’s why BroadVision designed Vmoso with a “no user left behind” philosophy. Yes, we agree with the “replace email” approach – we need a fundamentally redesigned environment for business communication, suitable for the interconnected, mobile age and Vmoso delivers that. But we understand that different companies are at different levels of readiness for change, and within companies, different departments and even different employees have different appetites to make the move.

So you can fully engage in Vmoso-hosted collaborations from an email client for as you need to. Each discussion in Vmoso has a unique email address that can be used only by participants of the discussion, and email users can initiate new Vmoso discussions using the generic addresses such as chat@vmoso.com and task@vmoso.com, even if they’ve never used Vmoso before (go on, try it!).

We believe Vmoso is unique in providing a bridge from the old world of communication to the new – a state-of-the-art environment for business collaboration and engagement that leaves no email user behind.

To sign up for Vmoso, click here, or download the iPhone or Android app.

BroadVision