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What is the REAL cost of email?

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What is the REAL cost of email?

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Being a long timer in the Collaboration (dare I say cooperation) software industry, I regularly get requests to provide a “Total Cost of Ownership” analysis so that clients can compare one vendor against another.
Traditionally these analyses have always consisted of tangible items such as;
  • Cost of software licenses
  • Cost of hardware
  • Migration, administration and deployment services
  • Software and Hardware maintenance services
  • User and IT Pro education costs
  • Telecommunication costs
All in all, nothing that has changed significantly from the 1970's or even the 1960's.
So, in 2014 what is the REAL cost of email?
Let's look at what the analysts have found through their various studies.
In this instance I am referring to information readily available on the internet from corporations such as McKinsey Global Consulting, Loudcast and IDC to name a few (email if you want all the relevant details if you can not find these)
  • the average knowledge worker spends 28% of their day in their email client managing email and searching for information (McKinsey)
  • 19% of their time is spent trying to locate information within their inbox and local files. (McKinsey)
  • 29% of emails gave attachments. This contributes up to 98% of the bandwidth used by email (Loudcast)
All of these commentators agree that email is not bad; it is in how it is being used in appropriately in todays enterprises. Email is communications, not collaboration.
So what is the cost of email?
How about taking the cost of email as 28% of your knowledge workers time for a start. People are paid to perform certain tasks, and spending 28% of their time on managing email (a communications tool) is not those tasks. I have yet to see a job description or set of personal objectives based upon spending time communicating.
A bit off on one side?
Maybe but I think you get my point. The true cost of email must include the time spent by users in managing it.
So why am I say this?
Easy... Any email system that can reduce the time spent in the unproductive use of it as a collaboration mechanism must yield true and quantified business value. Agree?
If you read McKinsey's paper ( Click here for the McKinsey Global Consulting Report ) the true cost of email becomes even more apparent. Not in it's use, but in the provision of a communication platform that allows employees to evolve from the unproductive use of email towards more productive social collaboration. They key term here being evolve.
According to McKinsey and others, the true cost of mail is in it's unproductive use of traditional models.
As they concluded;
the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) finds that twice as much potential value lies in using social tools to enhance communications, knowledge sharing, and collaboration within and across enterprises. MGI’s estimates suggest that by fully implementing social technologies, companies have an opportunity to raise the productivity of interaction workers—high-skill knowledge workers, including managers and professionals—by 20 to 25 percent. “
Reducing the 28% of their time within the inbox by this amount frees up an additional 7 - 11% of your employee resources (working on a traditional 40 hour week that is)
The cost of email therefore must include the cost of NOT implementing an initiative to move beyond its universal unproductive use. 
The cost of email must include the 7 -11 % of employees time lost following traditional operational practices, and not just the traditional TCO costs.
And for a company of 1,000 users even a opportunity loss of 7% is huge!
Email use must change, whether it is hosted on premises, in the cloud, via mobile, a hybrid or whatever delivery model comes up next.
It is the choice of how your next email platform will support adoption and assist in your evolution towards more productive manners of social collaboration that yields the greatest benefits by far.
Clearly, a focus upon choosing a email platform that supports evolving users beyond the unproductive use of email and the benefits are HUGE!

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