Today, email is nearly as ubiquitous as the computer itself. It offers a simple process that "just works" for most users and it has become a defacto communication process for enterprises and individuals alike.
YouSendIt found its place in the evolution of email by providing existing email users a solution to a common problem - sending large files. Along the way, the company has leveraged its position in cloud based solution to offer additional benefits to its users.
What do we Know about EmailA few things about using email that define it as a communications tool.
- Each message can be targeted to a person, a list of people, or an entire group of people.
- Individuals can respond to the message, ignore it, or mark it as Spam.
- It's security and privacy model that starts as opt-out, rather than op-in. Meaning that if you get an account *anyone* can send you a message.
- Spammers are the single largest sender of email traffic.
- Email messages can include file attachments that offer a way to send a file from one computer to the user on another one.
Improving the flow of attachments is part of email is that YouSendIt specializes in.
Large Files Needed a Home
For both user experience, technical infrastructure, and cost reasons many email systems cap the size of attachments they allow to pass through the gateway. Large files are routinely blocked, causing email users the challenge of figuring out another way to get them across the network.
One way to think about it, is that large file attachments "real" home is not the inbox, but more rightfully the filesystem (aka My Documents). And, increasingly these files are being stored in the cloud rather than the filesystem.
A diagram describing how it works shows how it creates a new channel for connecting the user to their file, while continuing to use email "as-is".
Collaboration Happens: Did You Get my Email?
By offering a cloud solution to deliver the files, YouSendIt was also able to track whether the recipient downloaded the file. The company currently has has about 5 million "file batches" sent per month with over 10 million downloads. On average, each file is being read by two persons on the other side and the sender is able to see which ones.
This audibility provides YouSendIt users a way to close the loop and gain a deeper insight to the status of their communications.
Imagine the sales person, who sends a brochure to the prospects, getting a report back for who opened it and who didn't. It automatically separates out the interested from the others and gives an opportunity to target the next message.
Email is a social application that has it's own rules and nuances - Google reminded the world recently with the launch of Buzz that connecting email and social networks is harder than it looks.
YouSendIt might be onto something. Instead of reinventing the entire social context of email, the company is focused on enhancing the existing email system as it works today.
YouSendIt Adopts the Enterprise
Microsoft Exchange has become the dominant email system in the enterprise. YouSendIt spent a lot of time working closely with Exchange and its client counterpart Outlook to bring its cloud-based attachments solution to the platform. This solution offers an approach to a gradual transition to cloud computing - one message at a time.
Change is in-the-air around collaboration and email. We wonder if the next generation of email going to evolve into the killer app for bringing social networking it into the enterprise.
What do you think, will email ever fade away?