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According to recent surveys, information workers send and receive an average of 133 messages per day, and users talk about "living" in email, spending an average of 21 percent of their time on it, as well as reporting general problems with overload. Information created by a business can represent either an asset or a liability, depending largely on how well it is managed. Email is no different in this respect: it can be a highly efficient and useful tool for communication, but only if the information it contains can be managed effectively. One of the main drawbacks of email usage today is its insufficient integration into the collective workspace environment. We believe that by integrating it with other external information (both on the desktop and on distributed servers), one can migrate some of this information to more appropriate storage environments, thereby partly addressing the problem of overload and offering users an integrated access to data and functionality. Currently, there is much research in the area of both personalised and business information management, but very little research that focuses on email as the primary information source, despite its ubiquity. In this paper we survey the current state of the art in email processing and communication research, focusing on the current and potential roles played by email in information management, and commercial and research efforts to integrate a semantic-based approach to email.
Date of Conference: 20-23 July 2009