Your Email Client as the Ideal Enterprise 2.0 tool?

email_large Tom Kronenburg of CapGemini recently wrote an interesting post on the (Dutch) blog Frankwatching. His post was titled: 'Microsoft Outlook the best Enterprise 2.0 tool...' Nice title eh? At least Luis Suarez won't agree... ;-)

If you want to read the whole post, go ahead and translate it with Google Translate. In short Tom's point is: the only successful enterprise 2.0 tools relate directly to email/the email client.

This is an interesting thought! His post provides lots of input for discussion. I commented on his post and would like to pass my remarks on to my readers as well, and elaborate a bit.

In the first place, I agree with his thesis that web 2.0 concepts and tools should integrate well with the primary workplace of knowledge workers. Which is email mostly. Email is the knowledge worker's habitat. In whatever way you look at it, if you don't integrate with the email client the new tool will be perceived as 'an extra tool'. And in my experience, people have a hard time maintaining content in more than one spot. On the other hand I find that most good web 2.0 tools do exactly this (- although it could be done more deeply).

I think this is something social media evangelists tend to forget (- and I consider myself to be one of them). We are so enthralled by the possibilities of the new web, that we forget the way knowledge workers work and the tools they always use to get things done. Of course we can talk about when to use email and when not. However life in companies is that email is THE communication tool. Lots of research has shown this too. James Dellow over at Chieftech pointed to some of this lately. E.g. research by Stenmark shows knowledge workers prefer to use their email client to collect information for research. (I've pointed to other research on my blog too.)

So, a key issue in social media adoption is truly understanding the way people work and relating and connecting to that reality instead of say: 'Hey, there's lots of good tools way over here! Far away from your email!' Most knowledge workers will take a peak and continue using email. That's where we (still) get new info and manage our tasks.

Tom points to Xobni as a successful e2.0 tool, easily used by many knowledge workers. True, Xobni and other email client add-ons, such as Taglocity, have added value. However, in my daily practice I don't see Xobni helping us to become a more open, transparent and social company. It helps me manage my email in a better way (- although I stopped using Xobni and Taglocity because it slowed down my email client...). It doesn't help me easily shared my information/knowledge, etc.

Well, what do you think? Is email the starting point for enterprise 2.0 initiatives? How tightly should these initiative integrate with email? Or should we stop focusing on email and provide added-value tools that should be integrated in daily work processes? I'd love to hear what you think!


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