ROI Series, Pt. 2: Replacing Email For Internal Collaboration

This is part two of our digital work hub ROI series, where we discuss replacing email

In part one of this blog series, we summarized the challenges around quantifying digital work hub ROI. In this article, we’ll focus on one specific area of opportunity from our ROI Report: reducing reliance on email. Many companies are missing out on a chance to replace email for internal communication and collaboration. Part three of the series covers search functionality, and helping people find information faster.

Your employees spend too much time on email

Far too many companies rely on email for all of their internal collaboration. This usually results in a cascade of productivity issues, as it creates a firehose effect. Employees receive so many emails that it becomes very difficult to create a sense of priority. Furthermore, email clients have poor search functionality, and files and conversations can become difficult to find.

The average person today is drowning in email. According to Harvard Business Review, the average full-time American worker spends 2.6 hours on email every day and receives 120 emails.

The average full-time American worker spends 2.6 hours on email every day

We aren’t going to try to tell you that you should get rid of email entirely. It’s still one of the best ways to communicate with people outside of your organization. However, a big chunk of the emails workers receive every day are coming from their leadership and colleagues. For these use cases, there are a lot of issues that you could solve by replacing email with a tool more suited to the job.

The problems with corporate email

For one thing, most companies don’t have an organized approach to deciding who should get what mass emails, and keeping the distribution lists up to date. This creates an unregulated system where irrelevant newsletters and updates fill employees’ inboxes. The time spent by each employee sifting through these irrelevant emails can really add up.

Beyond that, from a design perspective, email works best for short conversations about specific topics. When you try to have ongoing, non-linear conversations in this format, it becomes confusing and difficult to parse. Many teams find themselves using a single email thread for all of their ongoing collaboration, looping different people in and out and moving from topic to topic.

Doing ad-hoc team collaboration via email creates frustration for everyone involved because it’s hard to find files and past conversations.

In our ROI Report, we examine a hypothetical company with 2,500 employees that is considering switching to MangoApps, which we’ve named ACME (they sell elaborate traps to help coyotes catch birds). 2,000 of their employees are in frontline roles, and the other 500 are desk workers. In the area of reducing reliance on email, they would see savings on two fronts.

ROI for ACME's 2,500 person workforce

1. Save 30 minutes per day per desk worker

As stated above, the average desk worker spends 2.6 hours per day on email. There are a number of factors that contribute to this, and a few are within your company’s control. First off, many companies do not give enough thought to the volume of company-wide emails they are sending. In many cases, you could deliver those messages more effectively by replacing email with another tool.

With MangoApps, users have some control over the relative priority of various kinds of notifications. You can send communications through your intranet system, enabling self-service content. This removes the need for a lot of the messages that exist to make users aware of a policy change or an update to a document.

Furthermore, precise targeting lets you send things out to smaller segments, so only the people who actually need to receive a particular message will get it.

Open collaboration spaces

Another key piece of MangoApps is the ability to collaborate in open, searchable group spaces instead of convoluted email threads. For companies where most collaboration and file sharing happens in lengthy email chains, this is a massive area of opportunity.

By moving this collaboration into MangoApps, companies like ACME enable their employees to be nimble and inclusionary. Threads become shorter and more logical, and action items are less likely to slip through the cracks.

MangoApps can reduce your corporate email by 20%

Between these two areas, industry research shows that adopting a tool like MangoApps reduces corporate email by about 20%, saving 30 minutes per day for each desk worker. For ACME, that’s 1,250 hours per week.

It’s important to note that employee time is not a zero-sum game—especially for information workers. ACME won’t see the equivalent of 1,250 paid person-hours in cash savings. However, by any measure, 1,250 hours per week is a lot. That’s a major opportunity for their people to do something more productive than sift through their inboxes.

For a real world example of a company who saves a ton of time by replacing email with MangoApps, read our case study on KCoe Isom.

Case Study on KCoe Isom replacing email for internal comms
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These changes definitely save some time for frontline workers as well. However, since there isn’t as much research around their email usage, we won’t try to put a number on it.

2. Save $4/month per frontline worker

Like many companies, ACME uses Microsoft for their workplace software, and they give every employee an Outlook account, which they use to reach them. For desk workers, this makes sense, but for many frontline teams, this is a bad solution.

Email is not a good tool for reaching frontline employees. In most cases, corporate teams use it to push out mass email notifications, which frontline workers largely ignore. Then, when a particular worker needs a file or resource, they have to dig through their crowded inbox to find it. Furthermore, most frontline workers only send a handful of emails per month.

In short, a tool like MangoApps, where intranet and messaging sit in an intuitive app, is a better fit for this demographic. Instead of bombarding them with impersonal emails, you create interactive pages and repositories where they can find all the resources they need. Better yet, it’s cheaper than a Microsoft license. 

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In most cases, we are able to save customers like this a minimum of $4 per user per month for anyone that no longer needs an Outlook account (and sometimes considerably more). In ACME’s case, their 2,000 frontline workers no longer need email, saving $96,000 in licensing fees.

Next Steps

Overall, there is a lot of potential for companies to replace email for their internal communication and collaboration. Email has revolutionized the way we work in many ways, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right tool for every kind of digital communication.

In part three of this series, we tackle the impact of search on improving the speed with which people find information.

To see how these numbers might look for your team, check out our ROI Calculator. Or, read our ROI Report to get a full breakdown of how we view ROI.

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