Is this the end for email?

Is this the end for email?

Torben Haase

Torben Haase, CEO, Excitor

Email may just be ready to join the carrier pigeon

With the rise in popularity of instant forms of communication, such as SMS, instant messaging, blogging, jaiku and social websites like Facebook, many industry experts have begun to predict the demise of email as we know it. But are such predictions warranted, or are they merely overstating the impact of temporary fads?

The answer is neither yes or no. On the one hand, there are several trends that point to the continued existence of email. For example, the increasing popularity of mobile email through products like BlackBerry and the iPhone show that it can be an instant communication tool that is not going anywhere any time soon. But despite that fact, there is a new trend that has captured the attention of many within the communications industry and lends credence to the idea that email might be declining in popularity.

As remote and mobile working become an important aspect of an organisation’s technology strategy, for flexibility and the work-life balance of employees, so the increased use of email though mobile devices indicates that this form of communication is standing its ground firmly and remains an

essential form of business communication.

We all acknowledge the fact that accessibility of corporate resources on the go increases efficiency and assists in flexible working policies. And nowadays most organisations are taking a variety of approaches to accommodate remote and mobile working.

However, in an era where time is one of our most precious commodities, email can sometimes become a time consuming technology, instead of a time saver. Some people prefer sending an SMS to talking on their mobile phone because phone calls take up too much time. It is the same thing with email. No one reads long emails.

It is not email itself that is the problem, but the way it is being used in today’s enterprises. The problem is that we try to use it to solve tasks for which it wasn’t designed. Email isn’t suited for the incidental, short communicative bursts that are intended for SMS or instant messaging, and it is also not suited for longer conversations and workflow management.

But beyond the inadequacies of email as the primary corporate communication platform, there is an even more compelling reason that prompts many to suggest that email’s days are numbered. As the new generation comes of age and enters the workplace, they bring their communication style and preferred tools with them.

The way we work together is changing. Before, we were connected to an office where everyone worked nine to five; now we are more on the go and we require communication tools that are more network-based, that are a way of protecting and preserving a company’s culture, as well as exchanging information.

This new way of working will challenge many of the traditional perceptions of the way we communicate as well, and what tools are considered ‘corporate’. All of these developments have primed the workplace for the acceptance of new communication platforms, like instant messaging and social networking sites.

These tools come in through the back door and companies basically have two choices, they can either integrate these new communication forms into their existing policies and procedures, or they can ban them. My belief is that trying to ban these technologies is like standing on the beach and commanding the tide not to come in. The next generation of workers will not only expect a wider range of tools to be available to them, they will most likely introduce them on their own if they are not made readily available through the company’s official channels.

I think more and more companies are realising the benefits of these new communication tools and investigating how they can be implemented in their existing systems.

If we estimate that in most companies today, email makes up about 70% of their communication, in the future that amount will be reduced and replaced by other communication platforms. The main challenge facing companies will be choosing between the many platforms and picking the ones that are best suited for their organisations.

It is not a question of not using one of these communication channels; it’s a question of having a smoother transition between them. As we move into the mobile arena, I think we’ll see technologies that are designed to integrate the various communication forms we need during our daily lives regardless of location.

So email is not really dying. What we are witnessing is more of a re-invention of email in the workplace, an evolution of communication as we know it.


Follow the money

The need to be able to track and report back on the mobile workforce is becoming an essential business benchmark. Dealers can therefore capitalise on this requirement to expand the range of mobile technology solutions they’re offering to customers, delivering added value and increased efficiency.Nice.

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