Friday, February 20, 2009

Interwoven and E-mail Management

Yesterday I had the chance to attend a presentation by Interwoven where they discussed many of the changes that are forth coming in the 8.5 release of the Worksite product.  The discussion initially focused on the merger (the iManage name is coming back) and on the product in general, but it quickly turned to the primary e-mail management discussion.

Interwoven seems to be realizing that there are a lot of personal knowledge management schemes out there, and that those schemes do not always mesh with the goals of the firm.  This is a good thing in my opinion.  I believe that the best way to get people to participate is to leverage the tools and work methods they already use.  We need to guide them to the best paths we can, but in the end it is their responsibility to do the walking.  If we can take what they have already done, and use that information for the good of the firm then we have made the lives of those on both sides a bit easier.

The bulk of the meeting discussed that Interwoven 8.5 will include 5 new e-mail filing methods meant to leverage the way people are working, and to get e-mail stored into the central Interwoven system.  The five new e-mail methods are:

  1. Server Side Filing:  Interwoven Communication server will change over from handling SMTP email messages to acting as a go between from Outlook to Exchange.  The Communication Server will actually move, in the background, messages from Outlook to Interwoven.  Basically, this makes the e-mail storage process quite seamless for users.  They will move/copy a message to a folder, and the actual storage of the messages happens at the server level.  This should be true even if a large group of messages are moved.  This should prevent the problems people have with Outlook locking up when moving large numbers of e-mail.
  2. Delegated Filing:  The new Outlook integration will include a delegate option that will allow a secretary to file e-mail for the attorney and assign the author/creator to the attorneys ID.  This should prevent the issue of e-mail being filed by the secretary, but not having rights granted to the actual attorney.
  3. Filing Toolbar:  Outlook now sports a filing toolbar for getting e-mail stored into matter folders quickly.  A couple of standout features of the toolbar are a) the ability to file attachments individually; b) personalized matter folder recommendations.  This toolbar concept is not unique, a couple of third party vendors already offer something similar.  I think this is a good move to add this functionality to the Filesite client itself.
  4. Suggestive Filing:  This is part of the toolbar, but is also available upon send.  Using the metadata and personal history the tool will recommend folders for filing that message.  Hard to say how well this will work.  It does have a “popup” piece that sits in Outlook and nags senders to actually file a message.  I am a bit fearful that people will select a default folder for the storage of e-mail messages to avoid the nag.  It was mentioned that the toolbar would be integrated into the send dialog to avoid the popup.  This feature will need some usability testing before rollout.
  5. Outlook Folder Sync:  One of the nicest new features is a folder sync option.  Basically, you tie a folder you have created in Outlook to a folder in a Workspace and anything you put in the Outlook folder is automatically synced to Interwoven.  They described the concept as mapping the Outlook folder to Interwoven.  The sync is one way, so other users can use the same Workspace folder without it affecting your sync.  You will also need to manually remove previously synced items from Interwoven, deleting them from the Outlook folder is not enough to remove the Interwoven copy.  The offer three options on the folder sync: 1) to leave a copy in Outlook; 2) to file it as private (overwriting the folder security); and 3) only file messages from external users.  I see this as the most innovative an potentially useful of all of the features they are offering.

A few other things they discussed were new icons in the Outlook message list that help you to see when messages have been saved to Interwoven (even by other people which is very cool).  They also have new workspace folder icons that better distinguish when the security on a folder is not inherited from the parent folder.

They will be integrating Express Search into the integrated Interwoven dialog(s) to let people perform searches from all Interwoven UI’s.  Looks like the end of the worklist is growing nearer as Interwoven puts it’s new search interfaces in the forefront.  They are also making Offsite more robust to allow for better network detection, and to make sure that the UI is the same online and off.  Most importantly, offsite will allow for syncing of individual folders inside of a workspace.

They briefly discussed the Mobility client which has been enhanced for the Blackberry platform.  The goal is to allow filing, attaching and viewing of as much Interwoven content as possible on the device.  For none Blackberry devices they are implementing a rich AJAX based web client to do as much of the same function as they can.

Lastly, they announced a new product that I have long speculated we would see and that is Worksite Fileshare.  Fileshare is a Windows Explorer integrated client that shows the full Interwoven tree inside of a regular windows directory structure.  Basically, Fileshare will map a drive to Interwoven.  Again, we see the end of an era as this is surely the first step towards eliminating the client software and working directly with the OS.  This makes a ton of sense to me, but certainly is a long way off before we say good bye to Desksite/Filesite forever.  They did mention that using Fileshare, you will only get the metadata that is applied to the folders you store things in, and that versioning is not possible.  This does make it easy to store all of those “other” types of documents that are not normally accessible to Interwoven.  I can finally put my MindMaps in with my other documents.

Overall, i think they showed a lot of compelling changes to the Interwoven products.  We should see these features in the 8.5 release on the 12th of June.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for taking the time to comment on this article.