Reality Check: Enterprise Social Does Not Stem Email Overload

Email overload is a hot topic. Replace “email” in the title of this post with “message” and the point becomes more obvious. 
 
Summary: Social displaces some interactions that are inefficient over email, but overall introduces more messages for workers to sift through. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, many organizations invest in enterprise social for the additional collaborative interaction (i.e., messaging) it facilitates. 
 
First, let’s look at how social displaces some interactions that are inefficient over email. In contrast to a private model -- which relies on addressing specific individuals and restricting who can see messages -- a public model allows everyone to more easily:
 
  1. Find someone who can help. Social platforms elevate experts based on their rich profiles, contributions to the community, and recognition by others. Addressing a larger group also improves the chances the right person will see your message. This avoids what IBM calls the squirrel hunt when you start pinging people to ask “Can you help me with this or direct me to someone who can?"
  2. Surface and participate in relevant discussions. We’ve all been annoyed by massive reply-all email chains. Rather than depend on being forwarded or copied at some point in an important email chain and be unnecessarily looped in on others, social tools allow us to choose to participate in relevant discussions. By electing to get notifications or watching the activity in a particular channel or group we stay "in the know” and can jump in or stay out.
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Office Productivity Software Is No Closer To Becoming A Commodity

We just published a report on the state of adoption of Office 2013 And Productivity Suite Alternatives based on a survey of 155 Forrester clients with responsibility for those investments. The sample does not fully represent the market, but lets us draw comparisons to the results of our previous survey in 2011. Some key takeaways from the data:
 
  • One in five firms uses email in the cloud. Another quarter plans to move at some point. More are using Office 365 (14%) than Google Apps (9%). 
  • Just 22% of respondents are on Office 2013. Another 36% have plans to be on it. Office 2013's uptake will be slower than Office 2010 because fewer firms plan to combine the rollout of Office 2013 with Windows 8 as they combined Office 2010 with Windows 7.
  • Alternatives to Microsoft Office show little traction. In 2011, 13% of respondents supported open source alternatives to Office. This year the number is just 5%. Google Docs has slightly higher adoption and is in use at 13% of companies. 
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