Saturday, 10 November 2012

How important is e-mail?

As the bulk of the mainframe population gets older, you can expect that some of them will retire. You can also expect, in any job, that people will get promotions or transfer to other organizations. And so it comes as no surprise to me when I e-mail my list of members of the CICS or IMS virtual user groups each month that perhaps one or two will be undeliverable – like Elvis, they’ve left the building. And each year when I e-mail people about the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook user survey, I’m even less surprised to find their e-mails are bouncing.

It seems a pretty fair assumption to make – if an e-mail address stops working, then the person is no longer working for that company. And in my case, I tend to delete them off my list. I guess it’s what most people do in order to keep their e-mail lists up-to-date. Just delete the bounce-back/undeliverable e-mail addresses.

And that strategy seemed to make sense up until late last Friday night – that’s over a week ago!

I never give e-mail a thought these days. I’ve been using it forever. I’ve been using the Internet since the days of Bulletin Boards. I can access my e-mail on my phone. E-mail has always been just there. It’s like electricity and running water – I know there’s an infrastructure that delivers it to my home, but, most of time, I just take it for granted. It’s there, I use it, and I don’t give it a second thought!

I have a personal e-mail address and a company account. I use Yahoo and Gmail. I can get to my e-mail on anyone’s laptop, on my tablet, and, like I said, on my phone. I can choose to check my e-mail during the day, wherever I am. I can check it last thing at night and first thing in the morning. I get Listserv e-mails from CICS and IMS sites. I get newsletters and other consolidation information. I get Google alerts about mainframe news. And, of course, I get lots of spam. Or, at least, I did, up until last Friday evening.

I tend to keep my e-mail open all day and I answer e-mails during a break from whatever else I’m working on. It acts like a refresher – unless the e-mail is causing more work, in which case I flag it and come back to deal with it later. I keep abreast of what’s going on and what people are saying. I can then answer press or client inquiries as they come in. I use e-mail to send articles to various publishers.

So, that’s not very different from hundreds of other people. I use e-mail a lot. I get around 50 e-mails every hour (plus spam). Some are just trying to sell me something, but a lot are work-related and useful.

But, late last Friday evening, my e-mail stopped working. Or, to be more precise (and sound less like a typical end-user!), my e-mail forwarding stopped. All the people writing to trevor, admin, virtualims, virtualcics, arcati, and lots of other addresses had their e-mails flagged as undeliverable. As far as they were concerned my company had disappeared. I, along with everyone else here, had probably retired, resigned, or just left!

It was all to do with my IT provider being taken over. The new company ‘updated’ my service – and took away all my e-mail forwarding. By Monday, I was concerned. By Tuesday, I was very concerned. All these bouncebacks meant people would be thinking not only that I didn’t exist, but my whole company had disappeared. By Wednesday my frantic back-and-forth with my provider was leaving me tearing my hair out. And here we are now. Over a week of frantic messaging and tweeting by me still hasn’t made a difference. Come on Dotster – I need my e-mail working. I need people to know that iTech-Ed Ltd is still in business.

I now have a much greater appreciation of e-mail and its importance to any business. And how a glitch can cause no end of problems. It’s as if the water and electricity to my office had been turned off!

If you have any suggestions about what I can do next, I’d love to hear from you.

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