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Productivity Bowl I: Email Vs. Collaboration Software

About a month ago I wrote about how I thought email was dead or at least riding off into the sunset. In an overwhelming response, everyone thought I was pretty nuts – to you all I say, OK fair enough. However, every day I see all these articles, tweets, and blog posts touting the excellence of all these new social collaboration products. So, I’ve decided it was time then to settle this debate once and for all. In the spirit of yesterday’s Super Bowl I present to you our very own inaugural Productivity Bowl I…

So without further ado it’s time to introduce today’s contenders: Voted the all-2000 dynasty team, coming off another strong 11 – 5 season, tonight’s favorite, Email.

They’ll be squaring off tonight against the young, up and coming Collab Software team. Their coming off a hot season but will their momentum carry them through tonight?

1st Quarter: Email 7-0
Email comes out the gate quickly scoring points with their huge 3.1 billion-user base that’s expected to increase by another billion by 2015 (www.radicati.com). In addition, it is forecasted that corporate email accounts will increase at a faster pace than consumer accounts over the next 5 years. With 25% of all email accounts constituting corporate email, email is clearly the preferred method of communication in the workplace and has clearly reached that all-important mass adoption factor I’ve talked so much about.

2nd Quarter: 7-7
After email’s initial scoring drive square, collaboration software methodically marches down the field to tie it up. Although it seems like we’re on track to have everyone on the planet have his or her own email address, Forrester forecasts Enterprise Social Software will be a $6.4 billion market by 2016. And what makes this more favorable is the fact that ”enterprise social collaboration products have [only] been around for about five years, [and] only 12 percent of information workers have access to enterprise social collaboration software”. So, there is this huge, untapped market for collaboration software.

3rd Quarter: 7-14 Collab Software
While both are great tools to help keep teams on track, collaboration edges out email. Email, while a good tool, has its flaws. For example, you can easily loose emails if you fail to proactively clean out your inbox (tips on how to clean it out), or it can be equally frustrating searching for that one important status email in an email string taking time and frustrating all involved. This is really where collaboration software shines.

With collaboration software it’s a lot easier to quickly and easily find the pertinent information you want. Additionally, because you have the ability to attach files to the project tasks you won’t have to constantly nag teammates to resend you that email attachment because you’ve lost it in your inbox. The combination of this and having the ability to see how far along individuals are at their tasks by having task update icons really makes collaboration software more efficient than email for projects.

4th Quarter: 14-14
It’s been a pretty close fight so far, both sides stringing together some solid drives. Late in the game though despite email connecting on several solid shots collaboration software doesn’t give in. I think we’re going to have to go to overtime to decide this one.

Final: 17-14 OT Winner Email


While admittedly I’m fond of collaboration software, it’s still too early to declare an outright victory for it. Adoption is still too low, and it’s still too new to see if it will really be this cure-all for our email woes. Right now email is a solid, tested, well adopted (I mean, who doesn’t have an email account today?) collaboration tool. It has knocked out other collaboration and communications products (think WebEx & GoToMeeting) instead of being replaced by these email has managed to continue on. So, for now, email we all know how to work with you and until collaboration software gains mass adoption or we have another game changer – email, you win.