Cloud Computing

Has Everyone Forgotten the Most Popular Collaboration Tool?

Everyone wants a piece of the cloud collaboration pie. Nearly every day sees the launch of yet another new mobile productivity app, online platform or desktop software that promises to change the way you work forever.

The bluster and excitement created by these latest arrivals to the digital world’s hottest space is understandable. Yet it’s also curious that in focusing on mobile and desktop platforms, collaboration innovators are neglecting the one tool that almost everyone uses to get work done every day: email.

Of course, the self-proclaimed prophets will tell you that email is dying so you can’t really consider it a real collaboration tool. People have been declaring the death of email for a long time, from PC Mag’s early adoption of the theme in 2004, to Hoot Suite CEO Ryan Holmes’ comments last year that compared email to the Pony Express and decreed that it was “time to put it down.”

Yet a recent report shows that the total number of emails sent worldwide will keep on increasing to an estimated total of 206 billion per day in 2017. Far from dying, email is set to be even more critical to businesses for at least the next five years.

Even more importantly, people actually like using email. A 2012 survey published in the Harvard Business Review shows that 93% of participants were at least “somewhat satisfied” with email (25% were “very satisfied”) and it was the preferred tool for collaboration by a long distance.

Sure, email has its problems and the survey shows that satisfaction decreased rapidly when people were asked about email’s searchability and archive management. Of the top five reasons the survey respondents listed for using email, its original function of one-to-one messaging does not even appear.

Instead people highlighted exchanging documents (76%) and sending information to groups (69%) as most-used features. This suggests that unhappiness with email occurs when people want it to perform tasks that it simply was not designed to do.

An Osterman Research survey suggests that Microsoft Outlook is the desktop email service of choice for more than 75% of professional users. If we can solve some of the problems associated with Outlook, we can help a lot of professional users facing the kind of difficulties just discussed.

Hightail has recently launched an enhanced beta version of our Hightail for Outlook app that brings all your cloud-based content right into your mailbox and automatically stores incoming and outgoing attachments. By addressing the real pain points faced by our 43 million global users, like document exchange in email, we can help people harness the power of the cloud using their preferred tools.

Those other cloud collaboration services that hope to ignore or replace email seem less focused on addressing real problems and more on making the headlines. Everyone makes bold claims about their product changing the way you work forever. But unless that’s actually true and you do create a genuine email replacement, the novelty of using your service will soon wear off as the inbox continues to reign supreme.

Email is not dead; it just hasn’t evolved much since its origins. People don’t want email to go away; they just want it to be better, and we want to help.


Matte Scheinker, Chief Product Officer, Hightail


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