We’re pleased to announce that Unified Inbox is using Context.IO to power their email integration! Today, we have a Q&A with Toby Ruckert, their CEO.
Tony Blank: Hello Toby and welcome! Tell us a bit about what Unified Inbox does.
Toby Ruckert: We provide a unified conversation and social collaboration platform that powers different apps & services. Our unification engine takes messages from different sources and then normalizes and synchronizes them into one unified platform.
We focus on asynchronous communication, so everything that has to do with messages that are not going back and forth in real-time (ie no chatting and talking). Examples are email, SMS, comments left online on social media and news sites and so on.
Practically speaking: instead of having to check many different mobile apps to keep up with your communication, in future you can simply go to your Unified Inbox app and immediately see what’s important for you to know, action or respond to.
Blank: What’s your goal for Unified Inbox?
Ruckert: To be the future communication standard for asynchronous messaging and to help people with achieving better productivity and work-life balance using our software & services. This is something that we’re very passionate about. If by using Unified Inbox people can save an hour or two per day and still (or even better) stay on top of their communication, we’ve achieved something meaningful. What they do with their time is up to them, but creating apps and service that empower the user and give back control and freedom, that’s what we stand for.
By using our own product we’ve been able to recruit a globally distributed team of people who have experienced first hand the difference Unified Inbox can make in their daily workflow. Rather than managing a number of different inboxes and communication channels, they now have one app they can go to for managing those messages. And here they can respond, file or delegate, independent of the channel from which those messages came from.
Blank: There are many apps and services in the space you operate in. What is it that do you do differently and why do you think people will like it?
Ruckert: You’re right, there are indeed many apps and services that do one thing well, for instance the “deferring” of email messages or “aggregating” social media feeds. In our opinion however they simply don’t go far enough to be truly disruptive or to really empower information workers who currently have to deal with many different fragmented conversations across various, isolated communication silos.
Together with our advisors, we developed the following 5 “D’s” which we believe are the holy grail of features for future inbox management solutions:
- Do/Deal with it (Reply/Move etc.)
- Delegate (Assign, like ticketing & task management)
- Delete (or Archive)
- Defer (or Delay / with reminder until later)
- Distribute (i.e. Share a Tweet on FB / vice-versa / etc.)
The key therefore is that unstructured communication suddenly becomes structured and that it can be handled the same way, no matter what source the message originally came from. At the end of the day, every email, tweet or facebook message is a task, because I have to deal with it somehow. Making this easier, fun and more productive, that’s one of the benefits we believe our users will appreciate.
Blank: When and where can users find your app?
Ruckert: At this point we’re negotiating several go to market partnerships with well known and global brands to maximize our distribution next year. Simultaneously we’re offering exclusive early-access to beta users from around the world – simply register your interest on our website www.unifiedinbox.com, fill out the survey and we’ll try to get you on board.
Eventually the app will be available by downloading it from the different app stores and online in the browser via SaaS.
Blank: Why did you decide to integrate with Context.IO rather than build the email component out yourself?
Ruckert: Doing email really well is hard and email is one of the key asynchronous communication channels which we absolutely cannot risk of failing at. We had the capabilities of building this in-house, but the professionalism, quick response times and maturity of the Context.IO API allows us to focus on our core competency – the unification engine and building value added services (such as collaboration) on top of it, rather than building out the individual connectors ourselves. There is always another channel to add, but much as Context.IO is becoming a key part of the internet’s email infrastructure, Unified Inbox wants to be at the core of the internet’s unification infrastructure.
Blank: How was your experience using our API?
Ruckert: It was good. We had the odd issues here and there, which is normal when you develop upon a new API, but the turnaround time of support and the quick fixes of the engineers plus the great leadership example of the Context.IO evangelists really made the difference. With their help we could literally build real-time email capabilities into Unified Inbox in just under a month. Developing our own connector with a similar feature set would have easily taken more than a year. Email is messy, it’s complicated. Context.IO’s API makes it easy for products that have a strong email focus to provide a totally professional and reliable integration which can easily compete with much bigger and more expensive solutions. I’m sure that Context.IO will be even more deeply woven into the web’s underlying email and API infrastructure in time to come.
Blank: In your opinion, what’s Context.IO’s best feature?
Ruckert: There are many and it’s hard to pick one. I think it’s a combination of three factors:
- Pushing email when it arrives rather than having to fetch it,
- in real-time,
- with full access to the respective IMAP headers
This is a unique and very valuable service you render to companies like ours that help us to go to market much faster than otherwise possible.
Blank: Great, thanks for your time and we look forward to your launch!