Link it, don't attach it!

Link it instead of attaching

Ever since the days of AOL and “You’ve Got Mail”, we have been sending mail files with attachments.  The virtual paperclip seems to accompany almost 50% of the emails I receive.  Within organizations you hear it all the time, “email me the file”.  The technology landscape has changed greatly since the days of AOL and dial up, yet our behavior change has lagged.

Organizations worry about data privacy and security, yet confidential files are emailed outside of organizations to personal accounts, to vendors and often times to competitors on a daily basis.  I blame the virtual paperclip.  Because people are so accustomed to attaching files, our email boxes are bloated and control over files is lost.

Cloud computing is disrupting industries and changing the way that companies think about Information Technology. BoxDropboxOneDriveGoogle Drive and others are showing consumers and companies that it is possible to securely store files in the cloud.  These new services provide cost effective, secure and easily accessible solutions to aid in collaboration.

At a recent luncheon with Box CEO, Aaron Levie he spoke about the speed at which Fortune 500 companies are adopting cloud solutions.  Silicon Valley companies have been doing it for years, but with the consumerization of IT, cloud solutions are becoming more prevalent in all industries.  The cost of deployment, the ease of access, especially on mobile devices and the ability to limit and control access make cloud storage a better solution.

Back to the virtual paperclip; Microsoft, Apple, Google and all other email providers need to do their part in changing consumer behaviors.  I say “Kill The Virtual Paperclip”, remove it from the menu bar in each email application and replace it with the virtual link icon.  Rather than attaching the file to the email link the file.  Create an automatic process that pushes the file to their cloud storage solution and creates a hyperlink.   This will increase the speed of cloud adoption, cut down on email box bloat, improve file security and provide users with better analytics regarding their files.

Technology advances are great, but their success hinges upon user adoption.  Technology companies can do their part by creating a user experience that is intuitive and easy to use.  Replacing the virtual paperclip with the virtual link button seems like a good next step in the transition to the cloud.