Let's make a notification stream for businesses

Published Fri 18 Jan 2019

Businesses use many different applications, whether they're small startups using GMail, Zendesk and Hubspot – or giant corporations with SharePoint, Salesforce and a bunch applications built in-house.

What all organizations have in common regardless of their size is that, there is a sheer bewildering number of emails, mobile apps push notifications and in-app notifications that you need to navigate and keep track of. Sometimes applications blast updates on more than one channel, say through push notifications on mobile and via email.

And with the average worker receiving somewhere between 90 and 120 emails alone every single day (makes about 25K each year), there seems to be no rescue from the information overload.

It used to be better

One now nearly forgotten example of how to orchestrate the number of channels within one UX is the Blackberry Hub – the centralized location for not just your emails, but events, IM messages and time-stamped app notifications.

Think of it as a mixture of iOS' or Android's notification centers and an email inbox. Except it is a standalone app that allowed you to manage notifications in a multitude of ways. You could search them, see attachments and threads and of course move, delete or reply to them.

At the very least this eliminated the need for apps to 'double' notify you, once via push and again via email. For business users this was great: Whenever they wanted to see what needs their attention next, all they had to do is go back to their Hub. It was their central starting position for each task.

Being a central starting point for the user is something contemporary Intranets have tried unsuccessfully to achieve for years. So we thought we should ditch the whole Intranet concept we've come to know, and start over. An Intranet that is merely a summary of other activities and data.

For inspiration lets look at Facebook's current notification centre, where you can see some carried over elements of the Blackberry Hub.

Facebook Notifications on iOS

You can see a list of all your recent updates denoted by a small colored icon depending on whether it was a page, message, video, group and so on...

A very interesting observation is that you see a distinction between new vs. earlier notifications and read and unread ones. Notifications you have seen before are shown under "Earlier" while notifications you have clicked before have a white background. Compare that to the blue notifications which you may or may not have seen before, the blue background just indicates you haven't "opened" or clicked them before.

This UX would be a fantastic foundation for a business notification stream as well, take a look:

Business notification stream based on adenin Digital Assistant

Aside from a slightly more compact layout, if you look at this screenshot you will see very similar elements to Facebook's approach: There are new and older notifications, with the added red background for more important ones. A crucial throwback to Blackberry Hub times is that not just users can trigger notifications, your enterprise applications can, too.

That means applications can stop relying on emails as a means of notifying you, and you would finally get your inbox back for the stuff you actually care about: Real conversations with colleagues, prospects, customers and partners.

Despite Blackberry not being a dominant player anymore, you can still download the Blackberry Hub to Android devices.

If you'd like to know more about the technology that makes a business notification stream possible, you should try the demo of Digital Assistant – our award-winning new platform for Intranets that uses AI and ML to help you focus on your workday.

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