Recently, I visited the Tallinn Science Park Tehnopol in Estonia, to meet the team behind Fleep. I spent two days with CEO Henn Ruukel, a former Skype engineer, and his marketing team to find out more about their business, and how it is part of a group of new messenger apps vying to replace email.
My initial reaction was, “Does email need replacing?” Like many others, I had not realised that email was a 40-year-old technology that was built for a very specific purpose. It was designed in the early 1970’s for sending and receiving letters in electronic form, as that was all that was needed at the time, back when work was done in incredibly hierarchical organisations. So when we complain that email doesn’t meet all our business needs it’s crucial to remember that it wasn’t actually designed to serve our contemporary needs. This is where the new wave of communication apps are coming in.
Many messenger apps are already replacing email for internal business conversations. In April, Facebook announced ‘Businesses on Messenger’, which allows businesses to leverage its Messenger tool as a way to communicate. Slack made headlines recently when it became the fastest start-up to reach the $2 billion valuation, helped by its fast growth and 750,000 active daily users. At the same time ChatWork, an enterprise social network used by 66,000 companies raised £2.5 million in venture capital funding.
All of this will help teams to communicate, but still leaves a gap for wider external communications. This is where Fleep aims to make a difference. It is compatible with email networks, so you can include email users in a conversation without forcing them to sign up to a new service or download a new app. Instead, they can just join in through email and switch over whenever they like.
We have been using Fleep in Proof now for a couple of months, and find its great when working across projects where contributors are geographically spread out, bringing together clients, freelancers, and other stakeholders. It helps keep conversations and any related files are all in one easy to follow message flow so everyone has the same view of what has been discussed and decided up to that point.
We still use email too, but it will be interesting to see how the ratio changes over time. As Henn said, “I think communication between people will move over to Fleep or other modern messengers which are optimized for conversations and collaboration. Based on my own and other users experience it starts off as parallel use and eventually you notice that you haven’t checked your email for few days, so it will gradually loose it’s importance.”
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