Microsoft Cortana Coming to an Inbox Near You
Microsoft Cortana will soon help you declutter your inbox — and possibly eliminate email altogether
In the year 2020, I’m hoping I will finally abandon my daily email processing ritual forever.
You can see how this will all work out. First, there are colleagues I’ve known for years who do not email me anymore. They use a collaborative environment like Slack or Convo. Second, I use the Google Inbox app on my phone, which weeds out superfluous messages and does a pretty decent job of showing me only the important emails. I’m also able to quickly respond to messages by clicking an automated response. Third, I really hate email. I’ve been using it for 25 years or more, and I get tired of clicking through dozens of annoying messages every day all day long. My goal is to become less of an email processor in my job and let apps and AI do most of the work. And by most of the work I mean all of the work.
Eventually, the bot could become a major aid in helping me declutter my inbox. I’ll ask Cortana to read my urgent emails, which means I won’t have to search through my inbox for what needs my attention. That’s half the battle, filtering through messages like I’m a robot myself. (There’s even a condition called email apnea where you hold your breath as you check email. I totally have that, and I think it might be getting worse.) This could be a great help when setting up (or avoiding) meetings at CES next year. Perhaps I could skip my inbox altogether and just go by the Urgent emails displayed in Cortana.
You’ll be able to reply by voice to quickly give your go-ahead or type out a quick reply, according to Haim Senior, the CEO and cofounder of Knowmail. Assisted searches and responses to important mails would be a huge help in terms of productivity.
That’s the most serious dilemma we all face, a form of email FOMO (the fear we will miss an important message). Once a bot can process urgent messages — like one I missed in my inbox the other day — there’s a big opportunity to create a secondary email system. Once everyone has a bot that handles urgent messages, and we’re all letting the bot organize less important messages, it opens the door for another bot or another form of communication to process the less important communication. For all of those CES pitches, maybe there’s an app meant only for that activity or some other tool we haven’t invented yet. Maybe it’s a plug-in for Slack, maybe it’s another bot that uses AI to look through the pitches and find the best ones. Who knows? If you do, please create it.
Honestly, this is moving closer and closer to my 2020 goal. Most of my emails these days are from people I don’t know that well, because the people I do know well tend to chat with me on Facebook instead, or they use Slack, or they find me on Twitter. We get a slight buzz from email (there’s some science involved, mostly related to a feeling of accomplishment). But that buzz is wearing off for me. It should. I have 180,000 emails in my archive right now. Time to go back and try to figure out if I missed any.