In 1971, computer engineer Ray Tomlinson sent the first ever email, which read “QWERTYIOP”, or something equally forgettable. Since then, email has evolved to become a crucial communication tool for both personal and professional use, but over the last five years in particular, the way in which businesses operate has changed dramatically. In response to the more mobile, social and ‘always-on’ demands of modern business, we’re waging a war on email in favour of purposeful collaboration tools that help people work more efficiently and productively.
According to market research firm Radicati, 182.9 billion emails were sent every day in 2013. Just take this in for a moment – 182 900 000 000 a day. There’s no doubt that email is the most widely used professional communication tool, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s still the most appropriate or efficient. In fact, the sheer number of emails we send and receive every day is a part of the problem. People face increasing demands on their time as a result of cluttered email inboxes. Consequently, traditional communication channels such as email have become a hindrance rather than an enabler. They must evolve to fulfil not only communication requirements, but also collective business needs such as scheduling meetings, sharing data and collaborating on documents.
With this in mind, ‘purposeful collaboration’ is a term which refers to a collective approach to digital communication via an ‘always on’, business critical platform, and it should be core to all firms’ working processes and strategies.
Below, I outline my reasons for challenging email, and embracing purposeful and constant collaboration.
The workforce is mobile and social
People at every level of a business are becoming more mobile: visiting clients, prospects, partners, working from home and hot-desking are all part of day-to day operations. Therefore, maintaining productivity and connectivity must be a top business priority. Unlike email, purposeful collaboration channels cut through the social chatter and allow individuals to focus on business critical conversations and issues across multiple devices.
People working on their own mobiles, tablets, and laptops is part of the natural collapse of static technology infrastructures which rely on desktops and email. According to Gartner, three quarters (75%) of companies say there are more than twice as many personal devices connecting to corporate networks now than there were two years ago. This BYOD (bring your own device) trend makes a whole host of additional communication channels available to the workforce.
In order to better manage employees and tighten security, businesses should act to streamline communication into a single, capable channel, such as a purposeful professional collaboration tool.
Collaborative digital working demands high levels of security
Email is also not fit for purpose from the perspective of security. If employees are going to keep working no matter where they are they should be able to access and share all the business-sensitive data or information they require in a connected and closed environment. With professional collaboration tools, users can set clear guidelines on who can share what and where, and prevent sensitive information-sharing outside the organisation. With email it is easy for people to mistakenly forward data to the wrong person, or for someone to send sensitive information to an individual outside of the business.
Email is simply too susceptible to malware and loss of sensitive information such as sales, market or CRM data. Constant collaboration tools offer a closed-circuit style alternative, which can record all information that is sent and received in a compliant format, and guard against unlawful access to sensitive information.
Productivity for the time-poor
Realistically, how many people have the time to sift through hundreds of emails on an hourly basis to find what they really need? Not only are email inboxes cluttered, but it’s all too easy for users to potentially miss the latest version of an attachment or to drop on and off email conversations on the dreaded cc and bcc lists. Emails with multiple recipients lack a much needed coherent structure. Purposeful collaboration embodies the concept of getting the exact business information everyone needs, whenever and wherever they need it. Collaboration should take place on a platform that cuts out the social noise associated with other prevalent channels that blur the lines between personal and professional.
With the workforce in many enterprises—and start-ups –becoming less siloed and increasingly mobile professional communication needs to play catch up and move into the collaborative future.
Business people need to pull themselves out of the deep, murky trenches of email. This is serious, email. This is war.
Email: A Declaration of War