Email is Not a Collaboration Medium

One of the shifts in behavior I think we’ll see over the next few years is a de-emphasis on email in favor of technologies more appropriately suited for collaboration.

Email is a communication medium. Not a collaboration medium.

Email is also best for two-way communications. One-way communications — newsletters, updates, news — is better in RSS than email.

The problem is that many people are in bed with Outlook (or whatever email system they use). So they use a two-way communication medium for everything. This is not efficient over the long run.

If you’re one of those guys who "lives in Outlook / Entourage / Eudora" even when you’re trying to brainstorm, edit documents, or plan an event, it’s time to bite the bullet (ie, the switching costs) and think about what kind of information should flow through an email application versus other applications.

The question is, what are those other applications that should be part of your virtual office infrastructure?

(hat tip to John Kembel for sparking this idea)

5 comments on “Email is Not a Collaboration Medium
  • Wikiwikiwikiwiki:-)

    And if it’s coupled with Web-based xls and ppt, even better…

    I know you’re in CO now, but if you’re back in CA, the Under the Radar conf by IBDNetwork would be a must-go in March.

  • This is not a new idea. Lotus Notes, anyone? The problem is that it’s hard to build general-purpose collaboration tools that actually add much value over and above the basic communication mechanism; and further, that don’t require that you ALSO use a general purpose communication mechanism. Consequently, it’s easier to just use a general purpose communication mechanism. Which is why everyone just uses email.

  • I agree it’s hard to build good collaboration tools, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible, and it doesn’t mean such tools don’t exist. For example, CRM software is superior to email for collaborating on sales leads.

    It IS easier in the short term to just use email. But so few people have tried anything else.

  • You can try the multitude of services out there…like basecamp for example. It’s a good product but guys like you will be itching for more within 2 minutes. I highly recommend It’s a richer experience and adds capabilities that are well beyond basecamp. Central Desktop is 90% of the solution required by 90% of humanity at 10% of the typical cost. I run software deployments, group collaborations on projects w/50+ participants, I use it to create internal sales wikis, it’s my intranet, it’s an internal blogging platform, and I even use the embedded database and spreadsheet functionality. It’s truly an excellent business platform vs. a “project management tool”.

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