As with many other aspects of life where you stay loyal to your “firsts” longer, (i.e., first love, first car, etc), I still use my 10+ year old Gmail email address. Corporate email addresses came and went, my other personal email addresses had changed a few times, but my gmail is still there, even on my brand new mobile phone.
A 2012 report from McKinsey & Company found that workers spent 28 percent of their day on email. A more recent article in The New York Times mourns the death of personal email correspondence by saying that “smartphones and the Internet have harmed our ability to sustain attention”. However, the observation of the demise of personal email is contrary to the fact that business email users nowadays send and receive an average of 122 messages per day, which is up from 110 messages sent/received in 2010. This shows that email is still a strong business work tool.
I was curious to see whether IT organizations also stick to their old “tried and true” habits, and what motivates IT organizations to select one email provider over another. After all, most users view email as a commodity and a necessary evil as part of working in a corporate environment. So I decided to do a research piece on what kind of companies tend to use which type of email service provider.
The Research Methodology
The first step was comparing the different email services that companies use. I pulled lists of email users on Google, Microsoft Exchange, Symantec, Rackspace, and McAfee using our very own Mintigo database of MI’s, or marketing indicators (please see our Research Lab for more info).
Mintigo’s predictive marketing platform uses big data and predictive analytics to discover ideal prospects, personalize content for lead nurturing, and provide insights that shorten the sales cycle and helps enterprise marketing and sales teams to find buyers faster.
The size of the company makes a big difference and provides us with strong attributes that we can examine and formulate. I see two types of solutions here for larger companies and another for smaller companies:
- Smaller companies tend to have less in-house IT. These smaller companies will frankly admit that they really don’t want to mess with IT; therefore, smaller companies tend to rely on email solutions such as Google, Rackspace, and, to some degree, McAfee.
- Larger companies, on the other hand, tend toward picking more complex solutions and systems such as Symantec and Microsoft Exchange.
The following heatmap graph shows the most frequently used email provider based on company size by annual revenue…color-coded to show the normalized frequency of use within each category. The darker the color, the higher the frequency.
Based on the results, we can see that Google is used more frequently in smaller companies, while Symantec and McAfee do better in the mid-market range. Microsoft Exchange appears quite frequently throughout companies of all sizes. Using absolute numbers and not merely percentages, the two dominant solutions are Google and Exchange.
Notice that there is also an inflection point that occurs with companies at about $100M revenue range. We can see that Google is the dominant service by far with companies below $100M, and Microsoft Exchange prevails as the strongest provider for companies above $100M. As is clearly visible, both companies stretch into each other’s territories. Symantec is a niche solution for the enterprises in the higher dollar capacity reach, and McAfee is a mid-market niche.
If I look at the data from an industry breakdown standpoint, I found the following interesting points:
- Manufacturing and Finance are strong niches for Symantec. Symantec also participates in business services but it is not the biggest service provider in this segment.
- McAfee is the strongest company in the legal industry. McAfee is similar to Symantec in the rest of the industry categories.
- Google (not surprisingly), is the strongest in the arena of media and the internet. Google also dominates in the area of education, software (of course), and (again, not surprisingly) in many other industries. It is not hard to predict that Google will continue with wide applicability in many fields.
- Rackspace remains similar to Google, but only operating on a smaller scale.
- Exchange continues with wide applicability. It is stronger than Google in manufacturing and construction.
The world of email service providers can be also divided by two axes: company size and email security.
|Big Company||Mid to Small Company|
unsecure email service
secure email service
Rackspace is the youngest player in the space at this time, and it is trying to bite off a piece of Google from the market segment of smaller companies.
Like the first time I drove my first car or my first love which I will never forget (for the good days and the bad days), I keep the faith in my gmail. In a way I think that people working in IT departments, especially in a big companies, tend to stick to what they know and operate best with.
Sadly I have to agree with the New York Times article — I may not send as much personal emails as I used to because the proliferation of smartphones and the tablets are to blame. Unfortunately the fine art of writing long personal emails is gone — at least from my personal life but as a work tool its usage is stronger than ever.
In the future a new player or one of the current email vendors will make a game changing move that will break this very simplified current balance of power in the email providers market. I also believe that one day a new player will come with a new email product that will make me leave my good old gmail behind…or not.