This is a guest post by Jacob Morgan, the principal of Chess Media Group, a management consulting and strategic advisory firm on collaboration. Jacob is also the author of the Amazon best-selling book, The Collaborative Organization, which is the first comprehensive strategy guide to emergent workplace collaboration.  The book has been endorsed by leaders such as the former CIO of the USA, CIO of ManpowerGroup, CEO of Unisys, CMO of SAP, CMO of Dell, and dozens of others.  He blogs at Social Business Advisor can be found on Twitter @JacobMThe following is an excerpt from The Collaborative Organization with some additional content from Jacob and Atlassian. 

It’s an interesting phenomenon when you think about it. We are so reliant on e-mail in our professional and even in our personal lives that it has become part of our culture. I think some of us may even enjoy getting e-mail because it usually means that someone needs our help, which makes us feel valuable or important. However, many of us hate e-mail when we get bombarded with spam, when angry bosses “yell” at us, or when we need to search through old messages to find information. But did you ever think about why we use e-mail to begin with?

  • Is e-mail a great collaboration platform? No.
  • Does e-mail make it easy for us to find information? Not really.
  • Is e-mail secure? Definitely not.
  • Does it make us more productive or make our jobs easier? Nope.
  • Does it help us communicate with teams and align on projects? Not really.

Why do people use e-mail to begin with?

I believe the only reason e-mail is used is because everyone else uses it. E-mail used to be necessary for business, and so it became ubiquitous, but things have changed and e-mail is now no longer the most effective tool for communication and collaboration.

Remember when email was used for asynchronous communication? You would send an e-mail and a reasonable response time used to be 24-48 hours. Today, try going that long without responding to someone’s email, they will be furious. I’ve had people get upset with me for not responding to emails in 4-6 hour windows! Thanks to “push” notifications and our ability to get email on virtually any device we have become e-mail zombies who check our inboxes over a dozen times a day and respond to e-mails as soon as we get them. I’m waiting for the toaster, microwave, or refrigerator that is going to start telling me about me e-mails…it’s coming.

E-mail has become a glorified instant messaging tool

The fact is that there are better ways to communicate and collaborate within our organizations. Sure e-mail may still make sense for customer interactions but when it comes our employees, we need to ditch the e-mail drug.

Collaboration platforms allow us to do things that email just can’t, for example being able to find subject matter experts, reducing duplication of content, opening up lines of communication across boundaries, giving employees a voice within their companies, improving innovation, aligning teams and the company, improving work-life balance, and making easy to find information.

Technologies have evolved it’s about time our business practices evolve too.

Note: The remainder of this post is written by Matt Hodges of Atlassian

What’s Atlassian’s take on email?

Is e-mail a great collaboration platform? No…

but Confluence was made for collaboration. Everyone at Atlassian uses Confluence from day one. In fact, one of the first things you do as a new employee is write your introductory blog post, tell the company who you are, why you joined, and what you’ll be doing in the company. You’re likely to get a ‘Like’ or a comment from a lot of places, from your colleagues to one of our Founders! Your in-app notifications inbox starts filling up and you’re instantly engaged, connected with the company and co-workers you’ll need to get work done – all this without ever having to send an email.

Does e-mail make it easy for us to find information? Not really…

but Confluence does. At Atlassian, the most common answer to any question is, “there’s a Confluence page for that”. You can find it quickly with search, someone might share it with you, or @mention you in a comment. We find that using Confluence for team collaboration helps us avoid creating silos of information that are ultimately trapped inside employees’ email inboxes, and lost for good if they decide to move on.

Is e-mail secure? Definitely not…

but, you guessed it, Confluence is. You can connect to your own Active Directory or LDAP server for secure user management and authentication. Once you are logged into Confluence, content can be as private or as public as you like with fine-grained permissions giving you complete control over who can view, edit, and contribute to content.

Does it make us more productive or make our jobs easier? Does it help us communicate with teams and align on projects? Not really..

but the combination of Confluence and the newest member of the Atlassian familyHipchat, send our productivity off the charts. Team Spaces in Confluence connected to team Hipchat rooms keep teammates scattered across the globe connected and on-the-same page. All Atlassians can collaborate in real-time with colleagues and clients in persistent chat rooms — sharing information like documents, images, and receiving automatic updates from integrated products, like Jira or Confluence. Thanks to Hipchat and Confluence we are able to reach decisions faster and keep everyone charging towards a common goal.

There’s a more productive way to work

With in-app notifications, assignable tasks, and a sleek new mobile interface, Confluence 4.3 is built for your working lifestyle. With everything you need, everywhere you go, you’re team will be instantly more productive. Coming to a screen near you very soon…email not included.

The E-mail Culture – Why do people use e-mail to begin with?