Today in the UK (totally coincidentally with my arrival in London this morning), IBM is issuing a press release highlighting a local market survey of 2000 adults regarding email usage. The survey finds that 21% would happily consider applications to complement email, but only 14% are aware of social collaboration tools. The release goes on to establish IBM thinking about the future of email and activity streams, and quotes local IBM UK guru Darren Adams on the opportunities and challenges in the email and social business markets.

Full release follows:

London, 12th April, 2011: A recent online survey of over 2,000 GB adults, carried out by YouGov on behalf of IBM (NYSE: IBM), has found that over a quarter (28%) of those surveyed feel that at least 20% of the time they spend on email during their working week is wasted dealing with irrelevant messages, chasing people for responses and resending emails. 44% of the respondents received more than 20 emails a day and 4% received in excess of 100 a day, the equivalent of over 35,000 emails a year.

More than one in five people (21%) would happily consider applications to complement email.  When asked how strongly they agree or disagree with the statement: “I am aware of social collaboration packages and their business benefits, and would happily use them at work if they were available,” only 14% of email users agreed.

Respondents also raised annoyances about junk mail, advertising and online scams and how impersonal email was.

Darren Adams, Portfolio Manager, Messaging and Collaboration, IBM UK & Ireland, said, “The results of this survey are very revealing. We all know that spam and on-line scams are issues for email users the world over, but other difficulties such as uncertainty as to whether an email and its attachment have been read, has the right person received it and does the reply actually answer the question asked are all areas that can be addressed by linking your email to social collaboration solutions such as IBM Connections. It will allow people to use email in new and much more effective ways, both at home and at work.”  

Email is undeniably a critical element of everyday working life.  With IDC, a global industry analyst firm, estimating that there will be 970 million business and 950 million consumer email users by 2014, it is not going away soon.

However, email is definitely evolving from a static one-to-one exchange and is fast becoming the inbox for the social framework, allowing people to use email more effectively to communicate and coordinate information from other sources like social networks. This facility enables people to address many of the existing difficulties associated with email by expanding traditional functionality with complimentary tools that people are already familiar with from using social networks.

Effective communication should be important as 35% of online Brits who use email have colleagues who are not based in the same location. 12% are working in a different workplace to over half of their workmates.

Adams continues, “Social collaboration offers great opportunities for business and allows users in disparate locations to easily collaborate and ensure they are reaching out to the right people with the required expertise and knowledge. While the business benefits are clear, we know that we need to raise the profile of social collaboration in the market place - the survey showed us that 37% of people in the UK are unaware of the benefits of being part of a social business."

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