90% of Collaboration happens via email

Here is a fun stat, there are 200 Billion emails a day, which equates to 30 emails per living person (and I am absolutely over my daily allotment) but worse than that is 70% is reported to be spam.

Big deal you say, well actually it is if you think about it from an efficiency perspective. With all that email flying around how does anyone get things done?

It’s worse when you start thinking about collaboration. Collaborative teams of the past and even still today are using email as their collaboration tool of choice. Especially teams that are loosely formed outside of corporate firewalls.

Google Docs has hit it right for those teams and frankly for even small to medium size corporations who are progressive enough to use this as a platform.

Enterprise software served a specific role – to automate business processes in a way that drives down costs. But knowledge work cannot be automated. That’s why knowledge workers spend the majority of their time handling exceptions to business processes, not executing process.

Very often, this knowledge work is completed within email. So if experts estimate that 90 percent of collaboration takes place via email that means upwards of 75 percent of knowledge assets are trapped inside email messages!

So where is the Buzz? Capturing this institutional knowledge and leveraging it across the organization is the power of Enterprise 2.0. Enterprise 2.0 tools are designed for individual contribution and grass roots, bottom-up type development. They must be simple to use in order to draw users to swarm around key pieces of knowledge, tagging and posting blogs and wikis.

Don’t miss my podcast on Enterprise 2.0 with Ross Mayfield coming up this Thursday!

2 comments to 90% of Collaboration happens via email

  • Meghann

    Paul, great post. We use Google Docs for a number of team-based projects, and it’s been helpful.

    Also love your point about email interfering with productivity. I have colleagues who come to work in the very early morning so that they can do some work before other people are up and online. I’ve also heard that AT&T has gone so far as to ban all email communications on Wednesdays to help its employees focus.

  • Simon Carswell


    I agree completely with what you say about the use of email for collaboration. In fact, I posted something along the same lines myself recently:

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