The Next Phase of Email

Osterman Research conducted a survey during March 2014 with 294 information workers to determine how they employ email, how they manage various information-focused work processes, and the changes they would like to see in these processes.

Our research found that according to most corporate decision makers and influencers, email is the single most important application they have deployed. The typical user spends two hours per day working in the corporate email system and sends or receives a median of 130 emails per day. Moreover, email is the primary method for:

  • Sending an attachment for 94% of users
  • Sharing files while on a call for 60% of users, and
  • Managing a project for 56% of users.

In addition to email, users are increasingly employing a variety of other cloud-based and mobile tools that offer collaboration, enterprise processes like CRM, file sync and sharing, file transfer, and social networking. Some of these tools are deployed by the corporate IT department, but a growing number of them are deployed by individual users to solve specific problems or to gain functionality that is not available from corporate IT.

The result of this growing mix of on-premises, cloud, mobile, IT-managed, user-managed and other applications is not only that users are not as efficient as they could be and corporate productivity suffers, but that the entire organization is at risk from sharing confidential or sensitive information on unsecured devices. In order to enhance productivity, security and the user experience, a change is necessary:

  • The conventional wisdom is that email is being replaced by social media and other, next generation communication and collaboration tools. The reality, however, is that email use continues to grow.
  • Email will remain the dominant communications tool in the workplace, but it will evolve in a variety of ways toward completely transparent accessibility across all delivery modes and platforms, an embedded application experience that will enable users to work with applications in the context of the email experience, and greater integration of social capabilities within email.
  • As businesses look to create a more effective workforce, and at the same time reduce cost and streamline operations, solutions like the IBM for Social Business platform, which is designed to transform business processes, is a leader. When solutions like this are used to collaborate and share expertise, organizations can innovate more quickly, cultivating a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Consequently, enterprises should continue to view email as the primary delivery model for communications and collaboration, but focus on the evolution of email as a platform for the integration of social technologies and enterprise processes.

Osterman Research has published a white paper about these issues that you can download here.