Email is no longer considered the optimal tool for internal collaboration. B2C made a clear distinction between communication and collaboration, which is critical in understanding why email pales in comparison to current industry collaboration tools. Communication is defined as "the exchange of information in hopes of gaining a better understanding." In situations where the goal of communication is to advance the state of a product, collaboration is the definition that should be used.
Anthony Bradley, writing for the Gartner blog, considered email a threat to the integration of collaborative solutions because people have become very comfortable with email as a convention. Bradley suggested that collaboration tools will never surface as the new convention until people who are self-restricted to email as the primary collaboration tool are convinced that other platforms may be better for their business interactions.
The widespread use of email has become synonymous with Internet interaction. According to Bradley, email is ubiquitous with collaboration, despite its shortcomings in ability and function. In an effort to circumvent the stubbornness of employees who rely upon email as their primary mode of interaction, some companies are exploring the potential for an integrated instant messaging (IM) hybrid that will transform email into a chat tool.
CMS Wire reported on the evolution of email in an article about the communication software Fleep. In the new hybrid, email and IM will retain their conventional functionality and user-friendliness. The goal for Fleep, as outlined by CMS, is to unite both commonly used collaborative tools to solve communication gaps for companies that rely on text-based discussion between employees. Fleep's group of engineers, who formerly worked for Skype, are considering what they know about their former company's IM flaws and are working on ways to minimize these in the new software.
Blending the old to invent the new
The benefits of collaboration tools are often restricted by employees who are unwilling to succumb to change. By integrating familiar elements of dated email and IM technology, the hope, as reported by B2C, is that collaboration will become the new modus operandi for internal communication.
Additionally, CMS reported that the developers of Fleep are aware of the potential problems with email as the jumping off point for their solution. Email allows for the asynchronous distribution of messages that can be reviewed at the leisure of the recipient and IM may be restricting if offline communication is not possible. With these hurdles in mind, Fleep is prepared to launch in 2014, and it is likely that businesses may see other models of this nature appearing in the near future. As the nature of Internet communication continues to evolve, the benefits of staying current with the shifting trends in collaboration tools remain just as important.