New ways of working come with new problems
In today’s often fast-paced business world, people are joining one team, leaving another one, or suddenly deciding to quit one job for another one in the quest of finding ever new opportunities to learn and grow. Another phenomenon that is increasingly posing challenges for organizational collaboration are teams that interact mostly virtually, be it due to the growing demand for work-from-home arrangements or due to geographical dispersion.
Over the years, businesses have had to accept these freedoms to employees to secure a constant influx of talent, but they come at a risk. Because knowledge and information are more often than not “sticky” and closely associated with certain individuals, solutions to minimize adverse effects on companies had to be created.
Existing approaches to knowledge sharing—and their limits
As a response to the issue of information loss, a whole new industry of collaboration tools has emerged to provide new means to disseminate these intangible assets within companies and projects.
Slack is being used by teams small and large all over the world for manifold purposes; Yammer is gaining some momentum in larger organizations as an in-company Facebook alternative. Dropbox and its more enterprise-grade relatives Google Drive for Work and SharePoint aim at creating centralized storages for file exchange and real-time collaboration. The success of these and other applications makes it clear that there is a need for new and innovative methods of communication and data transfer, and that organizations are willing to embrace new technologies in the hope that they can strengthen cooperation while reducing information loss.
But neither does all relevant communication happen company-internal, nor is information only contained in text documents, slides, or spreadsheets. Much of the information flow in business happens via emails, and this is where the solutions presented above fall short.
Why email still matters—and its limits
Email is still King. Especially those interactions with parties outside your company—if not done by phone or in person— will almost always be via email. Whether it is a long back-and-forth thread to reach a conclusion with your supplier or the mere transfer of a requested document from your customer: it’s hard to think of a (business) life without email.
After all, email has one big advantage over all its “rivals,” or rather complements: it is independent of any platform, and, as such, everyone can access it. The potential to reach out to anyone anywhere in the world at any time is just too appealing to not make use of it. Email still is—and will likely remain—the major means of B2B and B2C communication.
At the same time, email overflow, partially due to the sometimes extensive use of cc or reply-all, has plagued a great number of people and organizations. Moreover, email is naturally organized in individual inboxes and private folder structures, inherently limiting how colleagues can access crucial information contained within.
A future for emails
It is our vision to solve these very problems and break the information silos that inboxes really are while easing the pain of duplicate and unwanted communication. With new and intelligent approaches to the way we share and make use of emails, we want to make it possible to unlock otherwise lost key information and turn electronic mail into a collaborative asset for an entire team or organization.
What if, for example, a new colleague could see all the relevant communication behind a recent deal simply by checking the entire multi-participant email conversation, neatly visualized and easily locatable in a shared environment?
Even though there are numerous solutions for all sorts of files and instant messages that try to create exactly such a collaborative setting, so far none of them capture the vast amount of information contained in emails. But it is exactly this knowledge that is equally worth sharing and archiving in order to further reduce the complexity that comes with frequently changing teams spread over several locations. And this should be in the interest of employees and employers alike.