Will eMail become a thing of the past?

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Will eMail become a thing of the past?

For those of us who are old enough to remember, email was not always a common business tool (yes, believe it or not). Email is now pervasive in the corporate as well as the personal world. Although we (at least me) complain about the quantity and time to sort out the weeds and provide timely answers, I know I can’t live without it. We are a scattered global workforce and email is a major form of communication to overcome time barriers. It is a key necessity for doing our jobs and communicating albeit somewhat effectively.

A good use for collaboration is companies and individuals are increasingly recognizing the inefficiencies of using email as a collaboration tool, given how poorly it performs in situations requiring collaborative work on single documents in situations such as project management, acquisitions, real-time response to risk, and general administration.

So what are the real costs? Fast forward from my ancient life to 2013 and from a corporate cost and productivity analysis below are some interesting if not alarming statistics:

  • The average worker checks their email 36 times per hour – Atlassian
  • The typical corporate user spends over 2 hours per day reading and responding to emails – McKinsey the Social Economy
  • Professionals receive an average of 304 business emails per week – Atlassian
  • It typically takes 20-15 minutes to refocus on a project following an email – Microsoft
  • On average, the business user spends 28 hours per week writing emails – McKinsey

Add it up – pretty costly to an organization and to the productivity (and sanity) of end users. According to NewsGator, “one Fortune 100 manufacturing company calculated that a simple 2 percent reduction in email volume could save $2.6 million per year”.

Now enters collaboration tools. Although not embraced as the Holy Grail of replacing email, it is an interesting topic of discussion. Collaboration tools are real-time = no time lags or delays in opening priority emails. Collaboration tools are faster than emails = eliminating time to respond to emails. Collaboration tools can reduce the reading and responding to emails = information is continually shared in a group setting. Collaboration tools ‘should’ ensure that the most recent and accurate information is available to all stakeholders.

A quantifiable benefit can be achieved if I belong to only one or two groups, but what happens when I need to become part of several groups as do others – how is this maintained and kept up-to-date as users may need to become part of a group for only a short period of time? Is it any different than a variety of emails from several business units? Perhaps not.

So what do you think? Are collaboration tools a viable replacement for emails? Is it worth it from a set-up and maintenance perspective to ensure all the ‘right’ people are always in the ‘right groups’?

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