The collaborative inbox: Is it email's turn for innovation?

According to McKinsey data, the average worker spends 28% of their workweek on email. But why are they using a tool that's 50 years old?
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Businesses could be missing out on opportunities because of an antiquated tool that does not accommodate the highly collaborative way teams work today: Email. 

Given the recent boom in collaborative tech in the workplace as workers upgrade, and tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom, and the raft of recent IPOs, it seems email is the natural next step for innovation.

IDC Research has published an InfoBrief document for San Francisco-based productivity start-up Front, a Sequoia / Y Combinator-backed company taking on Gmail and Outlook.

Its 2019 Collaboration Study: The Collaborative Workforce details challenges in business and opportunities.

In the report, IDC analyst Wayne Kurtzman concludes that businesses using traditional email are needlessly suffering through inefficient technology and antiquated workarounds that are slowing down their business. 

The report highlights how legacy email affects business and productivity as it was initially meant for person-to-person communications.

The introduction of group inboxes 30 or so years ago was a workaround to scale email across teams who needed a group working within a single inbox.

Now mobile technology adoption is at the forefront of our working lives, as workers become more tech aware at work and home ever.

IDC predicts businesses will continue to accelerate adopting team collaboration applications at over a 20% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) over the next five years. 

The collaborative inbox - is it email's turn for innovation zdnet

Businesses want to collaborate. Over half of the companies in the study (53%) cited project management as their primary use case for collaboration, followed by interdepartmental communications (44%) and product improvement (41%).

Fewer than one in 10 users are considered to be 'passive' collaborators.

Half of the respondents (50%) said that a team collaboration application increased group productivity, and over two out of five (41%) said it saved time.

Although email is not dead, it is perceived to be legacy and time-consuming. Using an out-dated product has become the status quo, and the missed opportunities for increased productivity are costing businesses dearly.

With the ever-expanding quest for productivity, businesses have accepted the fact that email -- arguably their most important communication channel -- has not seen much innovation in over a decade.

Turning your inbox into your personal command center to boost productivity through increased transparency, and collaboration will certainly improve your productivity. But changing the attitude and behaviors of your users is sure to take far longer

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