Globocol Logo

The Future of Email in a Social Business

Posted by EddiePrentice on July 11, 2014


At Globocol we have been running our affairs on the IBM SmartCloud social business platform for some time now. We use it for every aspect of our working day. For quick or short communications we use Sametime Chat or @mentions. For everything else we use Communities, mostly for meetings and file sharing/editing. Over time we found ourselves using email less and less. It got to the point where we decided that it made sense to formally stop using email all together for all internal communications. There were a couple of reasons for this:

  • We were going to our inbox so rarely it made sense to formalise the fact that we would not be using email internally. It meant that we could be confident that we were not missing any internal correspondence by not being obsessed with our inboxes.
  • For project management we had already instituted this policy with clients and suppliers.

What this does is significantly reduce the number of emails I get every day which also makes me less psychologically dependent on it. All my day-to-day tasks have been chanelled in to SmartCloud and I now check my emails three times every day: first thing in the morning, lunchtime and at the end of the working day. I quickly go through my unread mail and delete everything I do not think I need to read (based on Sender and /or Subject Line). With what’s left I have a goal of getting it out of my inbox there and then.

  • Bit by bit I am becoming ruthless about unsubscribing from sites that I really don’t need to hear from.
  • I request not to be cc’d on emails which I don’t need to see.
  • Where there is a genuine follow up required I respond immediately with a one or two line message. If necessary, I then create a “To Do” in SmartCloud Activities.

I don’t have anything against email per se. However, with the evolution of social business software there are better alternatives for most communications. So I started to consider if I needed email at all. The answer is yes, for some very practical purposes.

  1. I need an email address for login on numerous websites (travel, shopping, banking, HMRC, even SmartCloud!)
  2. For initial client / supplier contact, email may be the only digital communications option I have.
  3. To receive news and updates from various sources where I have “opted in” I need an email address.

These are all valid or necessary reasons to have an email address. For everything else, I have migrated to IBM SmartCloud because social business software generally offers much greater utility than email.

What does Social Business software do which email can’t?

  • Co-author documents in real time
  • Run meetings
  • Manage projects

What does Social Business software do better than email?

  • Find expertise
  • Source new ideas
  • Share best practice

Email still has a place at the table of business communications but there are now more and better means of digital communication. If this remains your number one tool, you are not going to be working as efficiently or effectively as those who have fully embraced collaboration software. This is a transformational technology and is as big a deal as email was when it first came along.

Email has to adapt to this new reality and IBM have some exciting plans in this space which will be a game changer. More on this soon.

FREE Seminar: Globocol are running a session on how to improve your productivity by reducing your reliance on email. Leeds Business Week, Wednesday 15 October 2014. SEE MORE >>

Tell me more about IBM SmartCloud