80% of businesses still use email as a primary collaboration tool

The decades-old format is still the most popular way to work across organisations, despite a wide availability of specialist tools

Graphic of a man with a megaphone with email icons and his team on a blue background

You might think that there has never been a better time for collaboration. With a number of high-profile communication tools now available to businesses, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Trello,  Dropbox, G-Suite and Skype, it's difficult to believe that email is still a key player.

But new research from Ingram Micro into how people work in small and mid-sized businesses has revealed that 80% of respondents see email as their primary collaboration and communication tool.

The main reason given is because it is easy to use, despite not being fully optimised for collaboration. Because most of us have used email for decades, it is an easy fall-back, particularly when communicating with clients or other external people.

Almost a third of respondents to the survey say that modern tools such as Skype and instant messaging need to be introduced in their workplaces. In these cases, it may well be that email is being used as the only viable option, with other tools provided by businesses either being too complicated, or simply not up to the job.

The survey also highlights generational differences in employees' use of such software. A whopping 85% of under 35's admit to using workplace technologies such as instant messaging, Skype, file hosting and sharing tools that aren't supported or authorised by their employers.

Use of unauthorised tools like this is called shadow IT, and it raises serious security questions. When IT teams aren't aware of hardware or software being used in the business environment, they aren't able to secure it, or enforce any policies around usage.

A rise in use of tools like this is likely to be a response to companies not providing adequate ways to communicate or share files. The survey respondents who used technologies not supplied by their organisations said they did so due to ease of use, value for money, and the ability to save time.

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