Will email be ever dead?

When I look back at the many years of working in IT, email has been the key communication tool for me. It was the defacto and default tool. Over the last 20 years I saw how portals, workspaces, chat apps, social media and other developments reducing the amount of emails being sent for work. Most of the incoming emails I get these days are marketing related (junk).

Email was the first killer app of the internet. The attraction of email is the ease of which we can send a message and not to worry about it afterwards. Compare this with most conference calls that start with “can you hear me ok?”. Email is simple and fast to send. It is also very convenient to receive, read or remove. It is passive and that is powerful.

The power of other collaboration tools including sms is that we can get an immediate response. Which is why we hear a lot about the success of the “post-email era” tools.

Don’t get me wrong, email is clunky as soon as you go pass a few people and a thread that is longer than a few scrolls on your iPhone 6 plus. It then starts to look very confusing like the good old news bulletin boards. You have to read the whole thing to really understand what is going on.

Given our busy and information overloaded work environments these days, simplification is a key to sanity. We all need accurate information fast so that we can digest it well and act upon. Unfortunately, Email is not the best for this in most cases.

Search, classification, summarisation, tagging and other innovations on new collaboration platforms we see, all came to solve the key problems email has created. Workflow solutions also look at streamlining processes and try to eliminate some of the traps email use has created.

I see email being heavily used by many solutions as a notification mechanism. The key way to resetting a password is still through emails on web applications. Some apps are using sms such as our Subject selections solution. Imagine losing access to an email account which you used as login or secondary address?

I used to think email will be dead soon. It is actually interesting to still see many investments on email by industry players to try to make it better.

I have some questions about the future around email collaboration:

1. Will the facebook generation use email when they go working for corporates?
2. How will the casual collaboration style practised by the users of popular consumer platforms translate to business world?
3. Would companies still budget for email client/cloud software licenses?

With all the work we do around collaboration projects, social media integration works, messaging apps and so on I see email slowly dying but will it ever become extinct? I doubt it.

What are your thoughts?

One comment

  1. Paul Gaudion commented :

    In my IT job experience (since 1997) email is used as a de facto “to do” list as well. “If it’s in my inbox, then I have something to do”.

    I am always fascinated by some users who think it’s efficient to put e-mail into folders by persons name. most modern email clients (and web mail based) have great search capabilities and sortable, type-ahead columns.

    Email is also used in our work environment for confirming conversations, and execs sometimes set aside a “meeting” allocated period for email review and respond – it’s a key work item.

    I don’t fight it, I help users get the best out of it – and typically advise NOT to make more than 2-3 extra folders, and follow a “GTD” type methodology. If it’s not required – ditch it!

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