Remember that weird feeling when Google Docs first launched, and you could see your colleague editing your words right in front of you? If you’re like me, your first reaction was “Seriously, you think YOUR phrase is better than mine? OK… yeah, it kinda is.”
Or the moment you realized you would never have to add a suffix like “v1_Final_ForRealThisTime_2” to any of your files again?
It was likely a mix of thrill and novelty. Maybe prior to this the only ‘live collaboration’ you ever experienced was your IT guy remotely taking control of your desktop and installing that malware you needed. But perhaps most exciting was knowing that it was a new era of work, one that transitioned from an era of iterations and isolation to an era of instant results and collaboration.
The Three Waves of Collaboration
There have been a few defining waves of collaboration in the workplace in recent memory that have led to today’s ubiquity of tools that make teams of all sizes work faster together.
- The first wave was the digitization of everything from documents to phone calls.
- Second, the accomodation of global workforces and work-from-anywhere cultures.
- Third, and most recently, the need for real-time results and instant gratification.
Not too long ago I was sending printed out paper documents to my colleagues, awaiting their notes and comments, incorporating them back into my first iteration, and repeating the process until both sides were satisfied. Today, I receive a link to a Google Doc in Slack and then jump right in with my team, hammer out the perfect message, and then move on in a matter of minutes.
Think about it. This is a radical change in how we work. But more importantly, it mirrors a radical change in our entire culture, from how we communicate with friends, how we consume entertainment, and how we travel. If it’s not instant and if it isn’t social, it won’t survive.
How Teams Collaborate Today
Today’s workplace tools bridge gaps (geographic or otherwise) to get projects done. It turns slow moving teams into efficient ones. Geographically dispersed teams into neighbors. Outsourced teams (like agencies and freelancers) into integrated ones.
These tools can be broken down into three distinct categories:
- Communication: Instant messaging and group messaging has finally landed in the office, and even though the category leader Slack was founded less than a decade ago, it’s almost unheard of not to have some sort of IM capabilities in your company. The same is true of video chat tools like Zoom and Google Meet. Communication is instant and it’s team based.
- Project Management: Some of us might still have a paper to-do list, or the endless post-it notes that seem to always spread over onto our neighbors desk (sorry Ayhan), but tools like Asana and Trello have forever changed how teams collaborate on projects. Instant updates, notifications, comments, and timelines have made the task of planning and monitoring projects a team-based activity.
- Creation: Finally, all tools devoted to creation, whether that’s coding, writing, designing, or emailing, is shifting towards collaboration. Just as Google Docs and Dropbox has changed how teams work on documents, Github has changed how dev teams code and debug, and Figma has changed how teams design apps and websites. At Mailjet, we’re focused on changing how teams create and send emails.
So, am I just a guy passionate about teamwork? OK, I’ll admit I’m a stickler for efficiency, but it’s more about the fact that I now work in email which seems to be the last industry to get the memo that times are changing.
The thing is (warning: rant about to start) that email is inherently a team-based activity. Even medium sized companies can have as many as eight different people involved in an email template from designers to copy writers to developers to CRM managers. Beyond that, companies often have different types of emails like transactional, automation, and marketing and different teams devoted to each.
And while these teams are communicating on Slack or Yammer, managing projects in Asana or Trello, and creating content in Google Docs or Dropbox – they are sending email in a static environment not build for collaboration. They build in isolation, not synchronization.
Mailjet is a Collaboration Tool
We’ve heard this story over and over again from customers – as workplaces come to expect real-time and instant results from communications, projects, and content creation, they are stuck dealing with iterations and slow feedback in email creation. We felt this pain ourselves sending our weekly newsletters with our Mailjet marketing team spread across five countries and 4 time zones.
That’s why we focused 2018 on making emails faster for teams.
Think of all the features you love about Google Docs, packed into email (plus way way more). To give you an idea of just a few of the features, we’ll show you how we put together this week’s newsletter to keep our audience informed on our latest blogs, videos, and product releases.
On any other ESP (or on Mailjet a couple of months ago) to build this newsletter we would have had to take turns going into the email builder to do our separate parts, close the app, and inform our colleagues that the email is ready for editing. It was tedious, redundant, and not at all how a modern businesses should work. Today – the entire edit occured in one place.
- First, we all put together a draft of this email at the same time with real-time collaboration.
- Bea (in London, UK) added some comments in the app so that I could jump right into an edit when he got back from my amazing lunch in Toronto, Canada.
- Aline, the designer, locked different sections so that no one messed with her beautiful images.
- Michyl, our Head of Marketing Communication, was assigned the final approval role so that no email could be sent without her permission.
We don’t want email teams to feel stuck in the pre-collaboration era ever again, and we expect this is just the beginning of how email will move towards team-based creation. On top of live collaboration, comments, and permissions, we have also released Role Management capabilities to assign the ideal roles to each team member, and the ability to track changes to templates.
As mentioned above, the third and most recent wave of collaboration has brought on the need for real-time results and instant gratification. It’s no longer about just working together, or even working together across borders and timezones, it’s about getting to the needed result immediately. As email continues to be a key channel for marketing teams to engage their audience, it’s more important than ever to help email marketers get their desired results immediately. To us, this means easier live collaboration, ability to comment and communicate right in the interface, to make templates as easily accessible and recoverable as possible.
As the workplace changes, so too does how we work. Mailjet is about to change how emailers work.
Let us know how your team emails, what pain points still persist for your team, in what way does email still feel trapped in 2010?