A standardized element of modern email marketing services provides statistical results of the campaign - what % of messages were opened, what % were forwarded. These large campaign services struggled with being able to scale their service to the point where they could enable or justify this functionality for the casual or individual emailer who might value knowing that the one addressee of the message had in fact just opened the email in question. No doubt, competition for the high volume emailer, which roughly costs the same to service as the individual emailer, prevented a lot of email processors from looking at the individual segment.
Now for the first time, XLTechnologies and the Zendio service bring big emailer analytics and notification capabilities to individual users. Individuals don't have to use the service provider's web-based templates and don't have to co-brand every email with the email service provider's logo.
Zendio incorporates a new monthly hosted service that binds a Microsoft Outlook plugin script to the hosted software. Users merely use the plugin controls to attach attributes to outbound email and process tracking elements that provide timing, location of opening and state of reading for each message sent with the aid of the plugin.
Links in the email are assigned unique codes which also report statistics about whether or not they have been clicked, when they've been clicked and so on - all on an individual email basis. In fact statistics about commonly emailed contacts such as when they typically read email, where the email was opened, and what the disposition of the email has been can be amassed and presented to the sender. Senders get service generated email receipts too.
The service is turned on or off from within Microsoft Outlook as the message is composed and before it is sent.
One of the most popular features among the early adopters of the service is the mobile texting notification of the message being read. This way, the sales executive can call the customer while the customer is looking at the proposal which had been emailed an hour before - even if they're in the car on the way to the office.
Target user. Zendio will be popular among sales executives because it enables more timely salesperson-initiated-dialog with prospective customers without having to depend on the customer to act. It will surprise some customers, but I expect this will delight most to have a sales person so attentive to their needs and with such great sense of timing.
I expect future revs of the service to more tightly integrate the plugin with CRM services and extend to mobile email services so that the benefits of the service can be extended to more email scenarios.
Pricing begins at $9.95/month with merely a credit card to initiate the service after a free 30-day trial. Enterprise licensing available. Requirements are Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Outlook 2003,2007 and 32-bit 2010.
Email is probably the oldest Internet communications service, and today is considered among the most mature of the wide range of services used in business and in personal life to share ideas and digital artifacts such as photos, PDFs, documents and presentations with coworkers, customers, partners, friends and family.
The 'free' web-based email service, supported by display advertisements is a staple of many users' online communications experience and starting today, a new entrant promises to change this service.
GiveBackMail.com, allows email users to concentrate all their email into one simple and high performance viewing experience. Users simply 'transfer' all their email from Hotmail, Yahoo!, Gmail and even standards-based services that use POP3 or IMAP (they all do). Emails are presented in a browser with one skyscraper ad on the right while folders, accounts and addresses are unified and conveniently maintained without having to change addresses or tell anyone about the changes in your email service. Your participation in viewing your email at GiveBackMail.com means that instead of seeing ads in your email dashboard who's revenue benefits Google, AOL, Yahoo or Microsoft, a portion of the ad revenue (25%) is paid to a selection of charities.
Other useful features of the email service include support for 100 MB file attachments, unsend to prevent distribution of slightly flawed email, attachment preview-before-downloading, briefcases to provide separate mail download folders for each account and password authentication over https. The founders of the company, two brothers from southern California, have plans for instant messaging service and potentially distribution of video mail, but thought NOW is a great time to get the service out there and running.
Optimized for the altruistic emailer, the cleverly designed business model of GiveBackMail.com has the potential to make email an anonymous-affinity service without the branding problems of wearing your affinity on your sleeve or email address all the while generating a few $ for worthwhile causes while users do whatever they would normally do - view email.
I had a briefing with the founder and CEO of Massachusetts startup DexRex, Derek Lyman earlier this month and discussed the company's upcoming announcement of ChatSync Mobile Enterprise for BlackBerry. Founded in 2006 by Derek and Richard Tortora, two University of Massachusetts Computer Science students, the company has steadily grown to engage with 70+ enterprise customers.
The ChatSync product and service involves a software agent that plugs into your PC or mobile device and securely forwards copies of specific classes of traffic - Instant Messaging and SMS - to and from the device to a managed store available as an enterprise service or as a hosted managed service. The unique design of the DexRex approach is to implement the function as a component of leading managed email service solutions such as USA.net, eSecurity, SEECAS and Sonian Networks.
For most users of mobile IM and SMS services, the client or device software generally provides some degree of persistence. In SMS services for example, even my old Nokia feature phone stored onboard my last messages. My iPhone now stores my conversations. and allows me to scroll through them.
However, for users in highly regulated industries such as financial services, mobile device persistence is not compliant nor conveniently searchable. The conversation needs to be stored in a central server (on enterprise premises or in the cloud) so that it can be processed as part of a legal discovery process. Because of that inability to make the communication method compliant, most financial services IT departments under the advice of their compliance departments have denied access to these simple and powerful services because they could not be well-tracked or integrated into the company's communications compliance infrastructure.
Now, the ChatSync Mobile Enterprise for BlackBerry enables compliance and integration with the enterprise messaging storage and archiving policies for SMS, MMS and the popular BlackBerry Messenger service. Focusing on the BlackBerry infrastructure makes a lot of sense for DexRex because that's where the compliance-sensitive customers are.
The DexRex solution enable higher productivity that comes from being able to use mobile IM and SMS for BlackBerry users in these highly regulated and compliance-sensitive industries.
Paul Shin Devine, the former Apple manager who is facing charges of wire fraud used his company computer to provide information about pricing, product specifications and sales forecasts for products not yet released and allegedly profited some $1 million in kickbacks. Apparently the use of so-called freemail Hotmail and Gmail accounts didn't hide from prosecutors the cached messages confirming his fraud. Even the use of the Microsoft Entourage email client for Mac provided the necessary details about payments and the confidential information he had stolen from his employer.
He was aware of the company's practices of scanning outbound message flows for information on forecasts, costs and new model information and asked one conspirator in 2008 to avoid using that email to escape IT detection.
This raises the whole question of whether an employer can also investigate an employee's use of free webmail services on the company computer. To me, webmail is web browsing so it is like perusing what the employee is browsing, and therefore the employee has no privacy. The company has an interest in what you're browsing since they can be liable for endorsing a hostile work environment if employee's are always watching porn, or highly political sites, or terrorist websites.
In fact, I would think that many productivity-minded employers are considering the blocking of access to leading time-suck websites: porn, facebook, gmail, hotmail and even mail.yahoo.
[[False positive]] is the little-known side effect of content-based filtering. For email security professionals, it's a cost of implementing spam filtering: that some legitimate email are caught in the spam filter. For most email users, it's that surprise in one's spam folder: a legitimate email in a swirl of spam, it's the pony in the proverbial pile of s--- and it's happening more often than you'd think.
This Google Trends report shows how users are search less frequently over time for anti spam, yet the search frequency for false positive is stable. Note how in 2009 the frequencies of search cross over such that there are more searches for false positives than for anti spam.
Manish Goel, the CEO of BoxSentry, the Singapore-based email security vendor offered a briefing earlier this month and gave me his views on the question of anti spam and false positives. The company which has been reviewed on this site before, has been developing new capabilities for dealing with email integrity that are well on their way to commercialization. In addition to enterprise appliances, the company offers solutions for ISPs and cloud services for enterprises.
These two new capabilities, LogiQ and TrustCloud address related, but different issues in the email quality market. LogiQ is an appliance or hosted service to identify, report on and otherwise minimize false positives. Fundamentally, the service manages automated accept lists. The appliance or service sits parallel to the spam filter. All addresses that a user sends to are automatically added to the accept list (as they should be). All incoming messages are received at both the spam filter and the LogiQ server/service. If a message coming from an accepted sender is passed to the email server by the spam filter, no action is taken by the LogiQ. If a message coming from an unknown sender of dubious origin (no [[DKIM]] supported, or non-[[Sender Policy Framework]]-compliant) is blocked by the spam filter, no action is taken. If a message coming from an unknown sender, where the sending server satisfies configured DKIM and SPF support requirements is trapped by the spam filter, the LogiQ can if so configured, pass a copy of the message through to the enterprise mail server.
If a message coming from a known sender and that message is trapped by the spam filter (a false positive), the LogiQ can deliver a copy of the message to the enterprise email server, or it can merely record that it happened. In this way Corporate Security Officers can capture statistics from an independent source on the true rate of false-positives, and can act on the message handling to facilitate higher employee productivity, since so many workers spend so many hours searching through spam folders, oftentimes vainly.
The second offering is called TrustCloud. This subscription service does the opposite of Spamhaus and other rejected emailer services. TrustCloud has compiled a list of hundreds of thousands of trusted email domains and offers subscriptions for ISPs and enterprise email operations professionals. Modern filters offer mechanisms where an administrator can insist on including a check against the TrustCloud list. If the suspected emailer is on the TrustCloud list, it's likely to be legitimate email and so the message can be cleared for delivery. In this way TrustCloud can further reduce the incidence of false positives.
It's good to see action on overcoming the costs and annoyances of false positives. Costs in terms of lost business, declining customer satisfaction, delays in the conduct of business and unnecessary retransmissions.
In a update briefing last week with Zafar Khan, CEO of RPost, the electronic signature and registered email company that I first blogged about in 2008 while at Lotusphere, the company described its introduction of a new product for electronic signatures.
I've been an enthusiast for digital signatures as popularized by the Public Key Infrastructure solutions from RSA or Entrust, blending strong cryptographic technologies with hash mechanisms for complete privacy, authentication, authorization, integrity and non-repudiation of communications. The pain has been the complexity, the infrastructure requirements and the discipline to use the technology regularly.
This service has been accepted by the US government, the insurance industry, the US courts since December 1, 2006 and many countries around the world as a definitive court-admissible mechanism for proving delivery, content and date-time of a communication. RPost has worked hard to enable the integration of their service in various high frequency business processes.
Digital signatures are more than pixelation of your hand drawn signature. In fact, digital signatures are typically activated with a click of a mouse and involve a hash of the document, and public key encryption to activate software processes that are virtually impossible to replicate. The hash validates that the document being signed and the document in dispute have not changed. Digital signatures have been around for many years, but have not reached widespread usage in business or consumers due to user resistance. One of these factors of resistance is that digital signatures do not require the same or similar personalized drawing that is the written-on-paper signature we learn at an early age.
RPost's new service combines the digital advantages of the digital signature with the personalization aspects of the handwritten signatures. This way, users can assign the same emotional attachment to the process of digital signing as users assign to the process of analog signing ones name on paper.
As shown in the graphic, this new service is optimal for high frequency, but relatively low dollar volume items such as:
Overall, this new service will accelerate acceptance of the digital signature making its technology more transparent and therefore improving user acceptance. For business process owners, particularly in high volume low dollar value contracts, the functionality greatly reduces paperwork while improving signee confidence in their work. eSignOff is the 'missing link' to enabling the frequent use of digital signature technologies in high volume contractual commitment. Introducing it at this time in our economic recovery can further improve productivity in complex businesses like insurance and processes like purchase orders and compliance certificates and move our economy forward.
I have written about how various folks are attempting to use Twitter for business in our January 2009 report, Twitter in Business and in general, it's not particularly successful.
I've experimented with Twitter myself in early 2008/9, but found it to be too onerous to stick with it. Ergo, my followers are only about 5 dozen friends, family and people who searched me out (scary thought). But, now I have figured out how to use Twitter in a way that integrates the service with my firm's web publishing engines - www.brockmann.com and www.mobileUC.net.
Using one of two commercial components that I have implemented on our sites, the Joomla plugin from TriniTronic called Nice Article Tweets Plugin, I have managed to send a tweet, automatically whenever I publish (or optionally update) an article on these sites. The post to Twitter incorporates the flag New-, the title of the post and a tiny url that links back to the article. Very cool.
In this way, Twitter becomes a kind of RSS stream. I'll see if my list of Twitter followers actually grows as a result, or better yet, if the typical average traffic to our site improves. Stay tuned...UPDATE: February 23, 2010: I've also implemented a 'follow me on Twitter' feature that should help build up my twitter following and therefore reach more visitors who want to come back and visit again and again. I'll post later if I experience the same kind of phenomenal growth indicated by the graph from Twitter's blog on their tweet growth.