Email Bombshell: Email Use Grows As Firms Deploy Collaboration Apps

Smartsheet apparently thought it had a sure thing on its hands when it surveyed companies on their use of collaboration apps. 

You know what those are — cloud-based tools for a variety of workplace tasks.

And Smartsheet was right — collaboration apps are replacing old tools like spreadsheets. The business has reached the tipping point.

Of 1,000 IT decision makers polled by Market Cube in North America, 90% believe the presence of multiple collaboration tools has made employees more productive.

What’s more, 95% said these tools are a high or medium investment priority. And 84% believe they would be at a competitive disadvantage without them.

But Smartsheet was in for a surprise. It’s the bombshell in the report. Even in the face of those fancy apps, employees are turning to that old standby: email.

Specifically, 58% have increased their email use, and 37% have increased usage substantially. Those are comfortable percentages. 



At the same time, 28% said collaboration tools had no effect on their email usage. Only 14% decreased it, with 1% increasing usage substantially.

Why are people relying more on email when they have all these apps? Here’s Smartsheet’s explanation: 

“While most collaboration apps enable real-time communication, many don’t provide an easy and effective way for employees to store and retrieve collaborative work.” 

“Absent of this, along with a reported resistance to new workplace technology, employees default to legacy tools like email,” it continues.

As a headline in the report states: “Email lives to fight another day.”

It certainly makes it easier for marketers trying to reach those individuals. 

As for collaboration apps, 57% of the respondents will increase their spend on them over the next 12 months. And 71% have a collaboration strategy in place.

What are we specifically talking about? Tools that handle functions like these:

  • Store & Sync — Apps that allow people to organize, secure and share files—for example, Box and Dropbox. –65.6%
  • Create — Apps that facilitate the creation of content — tools like Google Docs and Evernote) — 63.9% 
  • Manage — Apps that facilitate visibility, action, status and automation for process and programs-like Jira and Smartsheet –63%
  • Reference — Apps that create structured websites. SharePoint and Confluence — 55.2%

Almost half are using at least six collaboration tools, and 16% are using more than 10. 

Smartsheet notes that “no single vendor or product category dominates this market.” It predicts consolidation.

The one requirement is that tools work well with other technologies.

So what turns people off about collaboration apps (and possibly drives them to email)? Here is the list of gripes:

  • Not everybody uses them — 33%
  • Performance problems — 17.5%
  • Information from too many tools — 13%
  • Duplicate tools for the same tasks — 10%
  • Difficult to use — 8%
  • They are distracting — 7.5%

It proves once again: You can’t get rid of email even if you want to.  


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