In June 2012, Mimecast released the first results of a series of regular reports that we are running under the banner of "The Shape of Email".
In that report we interviewed IT Managers and found that there was a perception that email was mostly unimportant or non-critical detritus clogging up people's days.
Today we released the second in this series of reports. This time we directed our questions towards end users and found that the follow on from the assertion that email in-boxes are clogged with non-critical things is that workers are spending more than half their time interacting with their email.
This interaction is not limited to replying to messages or composing new items, but also encompasses things like using in-boxes as default file server and search tools. In fact, 86% of the two and a half thousand respondents said they rely on email to find documents. Because of this huge amount of time spend interacting with email systems, we have started to call these workers "Inbox Workers".
Because of the amount of time spent working with email and because of the fact that users are using their email systems as informal file systems and document archives, it became very clear in this report that users are not particularly interested in changing the way they communicate today. This is interesting in light of the fact that our first report highlighted that IT Managers are introducing enterprise collaboration tools into their businesses in order to reduce the load on email systems.
"Email is dead" is something we hear all the time, vendors and industry pundits talking about how social media and the millennial generations are eating away at the way email allows us to communicate and slowly killing email. Millennial generation individuals want to consume bite size bits of info, they want to crowd source all of their conversations, social media is removing the need for archaic communications like email. We have definitely heard all of this before.
In this report, we find a completely contrary response.
Firstly, we found that email is preferred over social media for all forms of workplace collaboration including exchanging of documents (91% prefer email), arranging meetings (89% prefer emails) and sharing views and opinions (72% prefer email).
Next we found that 78% of respondents say that social media has not impacted on their reliance on email as a form of business communication, in fact, 74% feel that emails are taken more seriously than social media connections.
A short while ago I read this fantastic blog post in which Paul Carr, founder of NSFW Corporation, explores his preconception that email is dead. He sends out an email to his subscriber base telling them that he will be retiring what little email functionality they have with the unexpected turn of events that their subscribers suddenly notice them and start making requests for more email related features.
Peter Bauer, our CEO, makes an interesting observation out of the report. He says that even though there are a large number of specialist collaboration and social tools out there, email remains the communication and collaboration tool of choice for most business users.
In short, end users are telling us that they have a love/hate relationship with their email. They are dependent on it and don't want to learn something new but are, at the same time, frustrated that email hasn't evolved to keep pace with changing work practices.
All in all a very interesting report that shows in spite of all the things wrong with email and the rise of social media proclaiming email's death, email is in fact in great shape! Go here to download the report.