Despite what you’ve heard, email is not dying.
Search Google for “the death of email” and you’ll find 130 million results. And on each page you’ll find headlines like “Why Email Will Be Obsolete by 2020” and—our favorite—“Further Proof that Email is Dying a Slow and Agonizing Death”.
But before you dive into these results, and before you take them too literally, first ask yourself a much more telling question: “Do I still use email?” Better yet, ask yourself “How often do I use email?”
If you’re the average worker, you likely check your email 36 times an hour.
News of Email’s Death Has Been Greatly Exaggerated
You wouldn’t use email so much if it was going “obsolete” by “dying a slow and agonizing death.” You use email that much because it’s remained a core tool in most organizations:
- For the last 13 years, the Pew Center Internet Project’s annual report found that 61% of Americans continue to state email is “very important” for their job.
- In 2012, McKinsey found the average knowledge worker spends over 25% of their workday on email. In 2015, IBM pegged that number at 28%.
Other research suggests email use is actually growing:
- IBM found 78% of U.S. knowledge workers said they’re using email more than ever. Only 54-69% said they’re increasing their use of other collaboration tools (like video conferencing and instant messaging).
- The Radicati Group projected a 14% increase in overall email use between 2015-2019 alone. Specifically, they project the volume of emails sent per day will increase during this time from 205 billion to 246 billion; and the number of total email accounts will grow from 6.32 billion to 7.71 billion.
Email is not dying—it’s thriving…but maybe for the wrong reasons.
Email Joins a Growing Collaboration Ecosystem
Email is posting some huge growth numbers. But that’s only part of the story. As we explored in a recent post, the broader categories of communication and collaboration are growing in the workforce. In just one recent global survey by PGI, 79% of knowledge workers stated they work from home at least part of the time. And email offers the best option for many teleworking tasks.
Email is still:
- Great for 1:1 communication and file sharing.
- Familiar and easy to use for most of the workforce.
- Essential for communicating outside of your company.
- Accessible and functional from any device.
- Required for regulatory and compliance reasons in many industries.
- And—ironically—required to sign up for any of the new collaboration tools that are supposedly “killing” email. (More on this in a minute.)
But times have changed, and some of email’s original selling points are no longer valid. For example: security.
Originally, email offered a safe way to communicate within a company. Now, cybercriminals are using email as a route into a company’s networks. Highly-regulated industries—like healthcare and finance—are moving away from traditional email, and embracing cloud platforms—like G Suite—that natively meet next-level security requirements.
But for most organizations, emails’ loss of luster happened much subtler. As organizations began to collaborate more, they realized email wasn’t really designed with collaboration in mind, but rather, communication. As the need for onsite and remote collaboration evolved with growing mobile workforce, email was simply adapted to try and meet that need.
Just think about the last time you tried to have a group conversation in an email thread. One person attached a document. Then, one at a time, each person in the thread gave their “suggestions”. (Or, more likely, a confusing, disordered mash of feedback came in with no one quite sure when to say something, what to say, and who to say it to.)
By contrast, think about the last time you used a collaboration tool like Google Docs to work on a shared document. Everyone was able to collaborate in real-time, providing edits and comments. The document automatically tracked its history of changes. And integration with other G-Suite tools simplified and clarified the project’s surrounding management.
That’s just one example of the ways collaboration software solves inherent problems within email. These new tools also:Break silos. Email silos information. The average knowledge worker spends 9 hours a week searching for the information they need. Collaboration software makes important information shared and searchable.
Break silos. Email silos information. The average knowledge worker spends 9 hours a week searching for the information they need. Collaboration software makes important information shared and searchable.
Eliminate small time-wasting inconveniences. All those little non-native uses of email add up. IDC and McKinsey found organizations could improve productivity 20-25% by simply moving certain small tasks from email to new collaboration tools.
Create instant interaction. On average, employees take 6 hours to respond to an email. For real-time collaboration and time-sensitive communications, email is a non-option.
Email is not dying. And it is not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s just joining a broader suite of communication and collaboration tools based in the cloud that shore up email’s natural weaknesses.
Finding the Right Home for Email in Your Collaboration Suite Since Email is Not Dying
The takeaways are clear: Use email for what it’s best at (1:1 communication). Use today’s new tools for what they’re best at (deep, genuine collaboration). Better yet—migrate to a cloud-based suite that natively connects old-school email and new-school collaboration tools into a flexible, real-time workflow.
We admit, many organizations need a small push to stop using email for the wrong tasks, and to start really using collaboration technologies that handle those tasks much better.
For example, we recently helped Colgate-Palmolive give their 28,000 workers a diverse toolkit of cloud-based technologies with Google G Suite. Over time, they shifted away from using email as the one tool to handle all jobs—and their productivity skyrocketed.
You can learn more about how their transformation here:
Are you ready to start your transformation? Contact us today, and we’ll chat about how you can:
- Get your people to collaborate more and better
- Increase your group’s productivity and satisfaction
- Give your people new tools to solve their new challenges
- Easily migrate to the next generation of cloud collaboration tools