E-mail is 45 years old this year…..

….and in this digital age, what are the alternatives especially as e-mails can have limitations for entrepreneurial businesses? Limitations such as not being able to group people together to work on a particular project; the wrong people being included in message threads that don’t concern them and important people can be left out; e-mails can be lost by the sheer volume received and invariably remain unread, not forgetting the spam e-mails that we all receive; and, topic threads can get duplicated and so important information can get lost.

After-hours use of e-mail for business is common place within the UK. Interestingly, in both France and Germany there are strict laws restricting the practice of out-of-hours e-mailing. Interesting article from The Guardian about the French law.

Entrepreneurs are not wanting to sort through buried and unread e-mails to communicate with colleagues. They want quick, easy to use digital technology to collaborate with others within their organisation to aid productivity and to gain greater efficiencies.

These software tools are increasing in number and some national well-known businesses are considering using or are actually using social networking platforms, instant messaging software and collaboration platforms, in an attempt to move away from the reliance upon e-mail and the restrictions that this brings. As per a Chron article, users of these tools claim significant reductions in the usage and reliance upon internal e-mail and claim increased productivity,

Below are examples of software tools that are being used to improve internal communications and collaboration within the workplace.

1. Slack

Messaging platform for teams which presents a single unified archive with a search function. Integrates with the likes of Twitter and Dropbox. Chatrooms or channels organised by topic can be created across multiple devices and allows both one-on-one messages and group conversations to be shared in organised channels.

2. Hipchat

A web-based service for chat and instant messaging. It too has one-on-one and group/topic based functionality, but also features cloud-based storage, video calling, searchable message-history and inline-image viewing.

3. Asana

A web-based software-as-a-service designed to improve team collaboration. It allows users to manage projects and tasks online without the use of email. Users can create a workspace. Workspaces can contain projects and projects can contain tasks. For each task, users can add notes, comments, attachments and tags. It also allows them to follow projects and to get updates.

4. Jive

An enterprise collaboration platform that allows organisations using Jive to give their employees a personalised home page for individuals. This home page allows individuals to read just the company and work-related information they need when they login to their devises. The software connects people so that user-to-user interactions can be broken down by department.

5. Sharepoint

A content management system that allows users to upload and share documents, images and videos internally. An encrypted service, users can track changes to files and also maintain version control where required. This can be cloud-based or based on-site.

6. Yammer

A free web-based internal messaging platform that allows users to share and read general company information or updates as well as create individual groups based on teams and / or projects. The application can be used on desktop, tablet and mobile. At Inspire we have recently introduced Yammer, already we have seen a reduction in internal emails and an increase in group communications and we have had fantastic feedback from the team and will continue to use the platform.

E-mail still has a place in business and will have for the foreseeable future, due to businesses reliance upon this mode of communication with customers and stakeholders alike; however, in this digital world that we live in and our need to be faster and more efficient in everything that we do, entrepreneurial businesses should start considering alternative methods of collaborating and communicating within the workplace.  Get in touch to find out more on our success with the use of an internal messaging system.

By Andrew Singleton – Director.

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