Early Beta: Finding Our Muse
I am thrilled to announce that Umuse is now entering into Early Beta. This is an important milestone we’ve been working towards as we tackle the problem of managing the communication chaos in the workplace.
Each day, the average business worker is inundated with hundreds of email and chat messages. They’re overwhelmed, overworked, and are struggling to keep up with the amount of communication being thrown their way. In fact, in the last 20 years alone, message volume on the internet has grown 1,000 fold, while the number of users has only grown by a factor of 25. Despite the increase, the technology we use to manage how we communicate at work hasn’t materially changed. Until now.
Call us crazy, but we think we may be onto something. Download Umuse for free today and read along for some insight into our journey.
What is Umuse?
Umuse is a personal communication platform for the enterprise which gives you one view into all your digital conversations at work. The product works with the tools you already use today, and is designed to combine the power and flexibility of email, with the speed and intimacy of chat, prioritized into one integrated Facebook-like message feed that’s optimized for volume consumption.
Our bet? There’s a lot of promise that comes with bringing your messages together in one place and modernizing the way we communicate at work. We can help you scan your conversations quickly, zoom in on what’s important, reply more efficiently, and search across all channels. Additionally, we can apply smart technology that helps you identify critical conversations from the people that matter most. Read more about the core Umuse features here.
Our hope? Umuse will give you a more efficient and focused work experience.
So how did we get here?
At first, it was personal. In our own workplaces, we were receiving hundreds of messages per day across multiple tools, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and underproductive. We knew there had to be a better way to communicate and the answer was not to build another app to kill email or develop a speedier chat on top of a proprietary protocol. That may be the answer the world needs 20 years from now, but that wouldn’t solve the workplace communication problems of today.
Because today, email is still the fabric of business. It’s ubiquitous, general purpose, and open. For decades, we’ve used this one tool to send and receive information, keep a to-do list, and get work done. And although email is showing it’s age, we’re all still very much dependent on it. But we’ve also now entered into this new world where chat tools are commonplace at work. Chat is an easy, fun, and quick way to communicate, yet it has become another workplace tool we have to keep tabs on – more messages that add to the noise.
Our suspicion was that there had to be another way to manage workplace communication in this high-volume era that we’re living in. So we set out to find out more about how the average business worker used email and chat. We sat down with knowledge workers across different industries and watched them communicate. We asked them questions about which tools they used, why they checked certain chat messages before certain emails, why one email was answered before others, and what specific messages made them shift focus. Very quickly, we saw common themes emerge.
- Endless context shifting: Business workers were wasting time, effort, and focus constantly shifting between their different communication streams. They’d minimize an email window to answer a chat, and check their email inboxes after getting pinged. The result? Distraction. What if you could manage all of your messages in one prioritized view?
- Communication volume was high: The sheer quantity of messages being sent and received each day was a big problem for the business workers we interviewed. The faster the cadence of incoming messages, the more likely they were to miss an important update. What if we could build a more modern interface designed for high volume consumption?
- Finding messages was challenge: Business workers have inbox and chat management systems unique to their individual work style. But we saw that no matter how disciplined or organized the business worker, searching for messages and forgotten conversations was always a challenge. What if we could make it easier to search all of your messages together in one place, across channels?
In the end, it was listening, watching, and collaborating with users who were feeling the very same pain points we were that resulted in the product you see today. The common thread? Make it easy for me to communicate frictionlessly with the people that matter most to me.
And thus, we found our muse. We created Umuse to bring email and chat messages together in a modern UI that is optimized for volume and helps you prioritize your information based on what’s important. We knew it would be a challenge. After all, we were taking on years of behavioral baggage. But we thought that if we could get this right, then the possibilities for modern workplace communication were endless.
The Road Ahead
It has been an exciting 18 months. Thank you to our community of more than 5,000 alpha users. Your generosity, patience and feedback have greatly shaped the product we have today and for that and so much more, we’re grateful.
Today, we think Umuse provides a unique and simple communication experience for the workplace. But are we done? Not at all! We know that we have a long way to go. In the near term, you will see additional key business features like a deeper calendar integration and more intelligent address book. We are also adding additional channels like text and additional providers for email and chat. And we have even bigger plans for the Umuse of tomorrow.
We want Umuse to quickly help knowledge workers make greater sense of the information being thrown at them. Because though we can’t stop the increase in message volume at work, we can stop the cumbersome way in which we manage it. We are building a product for the future workplace so you can stay on top of more channels, manage more messages, and communicate more efficiently. Here are just a few of the features that will get us there:
- Cross Channel Save and Share: Multitasking across multiple message streams in the workplace of tomorrow will be a necessity. In one day’s work, we’ll communicate with multiple people, answer numerous questions, manage various projects, and will be expected to stay on top of it all – across several channels. With Umuse, you’ll be able to keep your focus while managing various communication streams because we’ll do the hard work for you. Save an email and share it in chat. Find that file someone Slacked you and email it to your boss. One place to save and share.
- Topic Following: Think of a flooded inbox of today. Now double it…or triple it. Keeping up with the message volume of tomorrow, across multiple channels, will become even more of a full time job. We’re at risk of losing focus and having important items fall through the cracks. The Umuse of tomorrow will automatically categorize your chat and email messages into buckets that are most meaningful to you. Umuse will learn along with you and your behavior so you can group your conversations into topics that matter. Start to think of your messages in the context of why they are important; not just assume they all are. An easier way to manage your messages in a noisy working world.
- Contextual Search: Google has revolutionized the way that we search. They looked past basic keywords and instead measured the importance of a piece of content based on the quality and the author. Why not apply that to our workplace communication? Just like your Inner Circle, we know not all information is created equal. The Umuse of tomorrow will help you uncover your critical information in your personal communication – in stream and in context. You know what’s important to you. We help you find it.
It all boils down to one thing. We want to make communication so easy that your main focus is on what’s being said, not how you’re saying it. Use what you love – we’ll take care of the rest.
Welcome to work modernized.