The More the Web Changes, the More Email Stays the Same

By April 14, 2010

Email is one of the oldest and most used forms of digital collaboration. It is also the messiest. There have been improvements over the years, but nothing close to the myriad changes that have happened across the web, and for t

he most part email hasn’t evolved much since Tom Hanks Got AOL in 1998. The "You've got mail" voice bot might be gone, but everything else is about the same.

Still, email is by far  the number one form of collaboration in the U.S., according to a study done by Harris Research for Cisco. It’s the primary means of collaboration for 91 percent of respondents. One of the main reasons, to be sure, is the high comfort level based on 10-15 years of use on the part of most users.

The biggest complaints about email is that there’s too much irrelevant mail (40 percent), that you can’t collaborate in real time (32 percent), email's limited storage (25 percent) and the fact that it’s very hard to organize large volumes of incoming mail (21 percent).

At the same time, more than half of respondents use social networks and enterprise tools based on social networks, like Yammer, are getting a fair share of market traction. But tools like this seem a long way off for enterprise adoption.

"What the study is really showing is that there is a need to innovate from current email offerings,” said Duncan Greatwood, senior director of engineering, Cisco Collaboration Software Group. “People want to use email as a platform to collaborate on documents, initiate an instant message or video conference, and have ample storage. They want to link their email into social networking tools that are tightly integrated and can help boost productivity."

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