In today’s hyper-connected world, email continues to be a universal method of communication — used by an estimated 3.7 billion people worldwide to send and receive an estimated 225 billion messages per day.
However, communication is often about change. And organizations must now be more vigilant than ever about their communications systems, both internal and external, with new methods of communication being created seemingly every day.
As we approach 2020, with millennials moving into management positions and Generation Z entering the workforce, it’s increasingly important to remain in control of the messages you send.
Email is great because it is simple, free and practically universal; everyone’s using it. It can effectively be viewed as a social network three times the size of Facebook — nearly everyone with internet access has an email address, if not multiple.
But email’s convenience has been hijacked by marketers and careless workers. Some argue that it stopped being useful somewhere between five and 10 years ago, and it’s been a problem ever since. Millennials tend to be email’s biggest critics, and they are notorious for avoiding it. Even older users who have spent their entire professional lives inside their inboxes recognize email’s limitations.
Email also doesn’t reach everyone in a timely fashion. As Internet speeds increase, people are less willing to wait for websites to load, videos to buffer and colleagues to respond to their messages. In a recent study, the Pew Research Center showed that people under the age of 35 feel “the need for instant gratification” and the “loss of patience.”
Here, we’ll review some of the many email alternatives on the market today and talk about why — whatever communications systems you use — it is more important that ever to archive your communications, both for business purposes and to stay in compliance with state and federal regulations around electronic communications.
Today’s email technology, while effective for external communications, does not support internal collaboration and effort within a master account, necessary for the preservation of data and institutional knowledge.
Alternative Communication Methods
Email long been a staple in the business world, but of course it is not the only way to effectively communicate with your advertisers, customers and employees. With the growing number of useful alternatives, some users have even come to dislike email.
While the email-free workplace isn’t on the immediate horizon, enterprise messaging and collaboration tools have gained steam, and these emerging tools afford organizations new ways to maintain connectivity. Many companies are now exploring alternative means of communicating and collaborating beyond email, without wreaking havoc on existing systems in the process.
44 Effective Email Alternatives
Slack has become one of the more common ways for co-workers to communicate. It’s helpful for workflow, as well as social chat (many workplaces have slack rooms that have become niche versions of water-cooler small talk). This shift from email to more chat-like functionality leaves a lot of gray area for what is and isn’t appropriate. For those who don’t like email, Slack promises to remove mountains of unnecessary back and forth interactions. Slack has managed to hit quite the sweet spot for companies worldwide, and its growth rate is off the charts. It’s no surprise that the adoption rate has been huge.
Perhaps the most rounded alternative to email in a corporate sense, Yammer is a tool designed to facilitate effective and thorough communication with your team. It’s a social network that offers a range of functionality discussion threads, file storages for all documents, photos and videos, and private conversations. This is a hybrid solution that combines the convenience of an IM tool and gives you some of the benefits of more complex systems that allow you to archive files as well.
You can use the familiar interface of Facebook to create groups and to host live chats with your whole team; the platform even allows collaboration with people from other companies. If your partners or clients are working on a project together, teams can seamlessly chat and connect, without the messiness of email. The mobile responsiveness allows you to connect to the apps and services you already use to store information.
The G Suite is a brand of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools, software and products developed by Google. It features Hangouts, Gmail, Calendar and Google+ for communication; Drive for storage; Docs, Forms, Sheets, Slides and Sites for collaboration; and, depending on the plan, an Admin panel and Vault for managing users and the services. Additionally, it features an interactive whiteboard called Jamboard. In terms of communication, the Hangouts platform is focused on video messaging; it also has plenty of instant messaging capability, which works hand-in-hand with the integration to other Google Apps.
Hive puts everything one on page — your team to-do list, your conversations and your files, allowing your organization to prioritize and know exactly what’s up next. It features integration with a number of different apps, for storage and document creation purposes.
Fuze powers business conversations through a secure and reliable global platform that unifies voice, video and messaging into a single application. It increases the efficiency of communication by combining a simple user experience, intelligent platform and third-party enterprise integrations to enrich every conversation and drive workforce productivity.
Glip provides a single, unified team workspace that allows users to communicate and collaborate faster and more effectively. Teams, whether internal or external, can collaborate using their favorite devices anytime, anyplace — all within the Glip team workspace.
Moxtra makes teamwork easier and faster by enabling secure messaging collaboration on demand. It provides a customizable collaboration solution connecting a business’ proprietary systems.
emplo integrates internal communication, performance management and employee management into one simple-to-use, online platform. It helps leaders create a remarkable organizational culture and increases employee engagement.
PBworks is a free collaboration option that features wide-ranging content capabilities, customization and centralized administrative options, as well as comprehensive security options.
Azendoo acknowledged email’s problem of being clutter-prone by creating a collaborative discussions center that organizes messages according to topic. With Azendoo, organizations can also share tasks, calendars and documents.
Convo offers a unique collaborative experience, custom designed to optimize the strengths of your company while working in conjunction with the needs of your entire organization.
Working on the Cisco collaborative systems, Spark allows users to access collaboration tools in order to work with co-workers and customers alike. It also features the ability to video conference with other users.
Podio is a cloud-based collaboration service that supplies a web-based platform for organizing team communication, business processes, data and content in project management workspaces. Users can also select business apps from an online app store or build their own according to project needs.
Project Management Tools
Trello is a flexible, visual way to manage your projects and organize anything. Trusted by millions of people across the globe, Trello has a variety of work and personal uses including real estate management, software project management, school bulletin boards, lesson planning, accounting, web design, gaming and law office case management. Trello stays in sync across all of your devices, allowing you to collaborate with your team anywhere.
Asana is a web and mobile application designed to help teams track their work. It allows employees to create a central location for different projects so they can allocate tasks, send messages, share files, monitor progress and ensure they’re on track to hit deadlines while managing projects and tasks online. Asana is integrated with productivity tools including Dropbox, Evernote and Google Drive.
Basecamp is a web-based project management tool, designed to allow companies to more effectively manage projects by creating a centralized platform to share information and deadlines. Basecamp’s primary features are to-do lists, milestone management, forum-like messaging, file sharing and time tracking. It is designed to bring everything your company is working on together under one roof by supporting messaging, discussion forums, file sharing and task management. It can help your team communicate without email, by sending messages inside Basecamp about your ongoing projects. Depending on how you work today, Basecamp may replace a bunch of separate products you use — allowing you to consolidate, eliminate cost and complexity.
Confluence provides a central place to keep your team’s work organized and accessible, making it easier to find the information needed to keep work moving forward. It allows you to capture, store and grow your team’s knowledge so the organization can stay up to date and on the same page.
Simpplr is a clear and transparent communication tool, which combines some HR functions with employee engagement. You can set news, events and goal channels to help focus attention and to quickly communicate company-wide goals.
ProofHub is a project management software designed to allow for easy creation of plans and robust collaboration. It speeds up the communication process by providing one simple interface to work off of.
Zoho Office Suite is a web-based online office suite containing more than 40 applications, such as word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, note-taking, wikis, web conferencing, customer relationship management, project management, invoicing and more. It comes with complementary mobile apps so you can run your entire business on one suite, giving users one secure account for all applications and complete administrative control.
Bitrix24 provides tools for task management, document sharing and time tracking integrated into a user-friendly social interface for maximum efficiency of communications and work. Free screen sharing, unlimited search history and free video chat are some of its primary features.
Samepage is a product designed to help teams of all sizes manage projects and get more done in a single easy-to-use workspace, using online collaboration tools including team chat, video conferencing, task management, file sharing and real-time document sharing.
Kaleo is a knowledge management software with some excellent messaging capabilities built in. Its predictive knowledge sharing feature makes it easier than ever for employees to find the info they need as quickly as possible.
The Wrike project management software is a product that enables its users to manage and track projects, deadlines, schedules and other workflow processes. Wrike uses an “inbox” feature and browser notifications to alert users of updates from their colleagues and dashboards for quick overviews of pending tasks.
HipChat is a chat app designed to make team communications simple. It features an ongoing chat that’s easy to search and lets everyone join in, with strong support for restricted groups. Additionally, you can start a direct private chat with any other person in your HipChat account. This lets you use HipChat for team and direct communications, and it also includes support for video and voice chats. HipChat positions itself as the one communications app for all of your team’s needs.
Skype for Business [MLCL1] is the instant communication branch of the Office 365 suite for businesses, a collection of subscription-based software that provides collaborative and productivity related services. The suite works in collaboration with the OneDrive file hosting service, and for business users SharePoint and Office Online.
Let’s Chat is a free, self-hosted chat system for small teams, designed to be easy to install deploy.
Jive connects employees with the right information and people at the right time. It offers high-impact corporate communications such as personalized news streams, executive blogs, videos and more.
Chatter is Salesforce’s communications hub. It allows users to post to a group, download a file, or update a service case or sales opportunity using the Salesforce mobile app from any device. It can provide a forum for anyone to share insights or propose new ideas, connecting product teams with direct feedback from customers.
Formal is a text app designed to give you interruption-free communication, allowing teams to stay focused and achieve workplace goals.
Jabber, a Cisco product, provides powerful video conferencing capability used by many big companies that count on video chatting to communicate across their organization. It is reliably used for instant messaging, but you can also hold video conferences, send audio or voice messages, and share your screen.
The eXo platform consists of a number of tools above and beyond being a messaging app — it also boasts an all-in-one reference system that includes document sharing, forums, project and task management, and wikis.
Rocket.Chat is another open source, completely customizable tool. It features options like video conferencing, a help desk chat and voice message capability.
Ryver is a format very similar to Rocket.Chat, although it is designed for those who do not wish to use an open source platform.
Fleep is an alternative for people who work more across organizational units than within any single department. Its messaging feature can be used to communicate with people outside of the Fleep system.
Communifire provides a completely customizable intranet solution that allows your organization to work in synchronicity across multiple devices. It offers the ability to consolidate a number of different tools into one platform.
BlogIn is a different type of tool — an internal blog that you can use to share daily/weekly updates with your team, create an internal knowledge base and even use wiki pages that offer access so the entire team can contribute.
The WaterCooler allows the integration of your company news, directory and messaging in one central location. Employees can stay up to speed with a shared calendar, company directories and organizational charts. It also is a central document and file hub, which is especially helpful for final presentation templates or sales collateral.
Mattermost is a free, open source email alternative that allows for complete customization and threaded discussions.
Answer Hub is designed to empower developers to communicate in a familiar environment with organized spaces. It creates open communication platforms, allowing developers to truly own and mine that data.
ThoughtFarmer is a modern intranet that claims to drive employee engagement and productivity by offering a centralized platform for collaboration.
Jostle is designed to benefit those who work across organizational units, as opposed to departmentally, having a greater impact on organizational employee participation levels.
Volerro is a secure platform for interacting with images, video, web pages, documents and other digital formats. It allows you to see who’s online and start a chat session with a single person or a group, or host a conference call with your team with the click of a button. Additionally, it gives admins control of which team members can view/act at each step in the process.
Which Email Alternatives Are Best for You?
Often, there is no one answer to the question. But today, it is essential to develop an understanding of the options in order to determine which services will be most effective for your organization.
And in today’s information-crazed business climate, it is necessary to maintain and archive all communications in order to remain in compliance with state and federal rules that regulate electronic communications for business.
Organizing and sharing the influx of data sent to individual employees oftentimes remains a manual function that is handled by policy and procedure, rather than technology. Although individual email boxes are archived for reference, or emergency, essentially all the value is lost unless data is archived from those received and sent emails.
Pairing collaborative communication tools such as the ones detailed above with a thorough archiving system is the only way to achieve communications that are both streamlined and compliant.
Information archiving companies like Intradyn are developing new capabilities to keep up with the onslaught of new communication technologies being introduced into the workplace. For example, Intradyn has been working on the addition and implementation of many of the platforms mentioned above, and has already incorporated Skype for Business.
Contact Intradyn to talk about about the benefits of a purpose-built solution for archiving your important communications.