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Communication/Collaboration and the Future of Email

Thursday, Mar. 15, 2012

How do the Google/Microsoft tools match up around email lists/search etc?

This is a quesiton we've heard at the town hall meetings and in the open ended parts of the survey. My response is generally that they both have strong options, different from Group Wise though, and that Microsoft may have more power in managing lists etc. (Recall from the town hall the description of Microsoft as powerful/complex, Google as less powerful/intuitive.)

My friend Maria Ogneva works for the social media company Yammer and has a new blog post that touches on some of the issues around these questions:

"Social Media vs. Email — Are We Asking The Right Questions?"

  • Is your message task oriented?
  • Who is the audience? 
  • Do you know the audience specifically? 
  • Do you want people to find it and iterate on it later? 
  • Is it public or private? 

These questions -- and Maria builds them out very thoughtfully -- sometimes suggest that alternatives to email (discussions on a project page or a blog like this one) may be a better way to communicate in some situations.

So, rather than asking about the email feature sets, be thinking about the tasks we have and if other forms of communication and collaboration might be more effective. According to Maria, Capgemini reports a 40% reduction in email when they added other collaboration options.

Having new tools is a step, but what will it take for us to change some of our work habits? For those of you who are already using some social media alternative -- what have you found to be a productive change? Are you using less email?

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