Ever since the Internet was commercialized back in 1995, email has been a huge part of our lives. Today, corporate users send and receive an average of 125 emails a day. Handling all of this information is a big challenge for many users. Email – or ‘electronic mail’ – was designed as the digital alternative to physical letters. It was not intended to be a collaboration tool for either individuals or teams.
Email can get in the way of getting things done, this is why we see a trend where new email apps are continually born. With the help of great swipe features, keeping you inbox clear can even become fun. Also, you can easily schedule emails for later reading. Intelligent filters reduce the number of emails we have to deal with and keep the less important emails aside. For example, Gmail separates ‘primary’ emails from ‘social media’ and ‘advertisements.’
Some of the biggest names have been quick to understand this trend and embrace it. Dropbox acquired the successful app Mailbox for 100 million dollars in 2013. Microsoft acquired Acompli a year later for over 200 million dollars and relaunched it as Outlook. Meanwhile, Google launched Inbox to ‘reinvent email.’ These initiatives are doing an excellent job of making email a bit more organized and easy to manage.
But there is another breed of innovations that is trying to make email redundant altogether: Collaboration tools. Collaboration tools focus on improving communication within teams working on a particular project. The idea being that if all communication happened via the collaboration platform, there would be no need to bother emailing anyone. Arguably the most famous one is Slack. It was valued at 2.8 billion dollars within a single year from its launch. But Slack is by no means the only product in the market, and there are serious alternatives like Basecamp, Trello, Jandi, Asana, Wrike, Podio, and many more.
And while these products offer high value, they have yet to dethrone email as the key corporate communication platform. As Microsoft’s Julia White put it: “No one has really nailed it.” In my opinion, what is currently holding the collaboration tools back is that everyone in the team needs to use the same tool. In a bring-your-own-app era, this seems a very rigid requirement and has saved email from being disrupted. For now, at least…
With all the big players and daring entrepreneurs in, it seems just a matter of time before someone does ‘nail it.’ I certainly can’t wait for this to happen!