Collaboration methods have grown and evolved rapidly over the past several decades, and through it all, email has hung in there as a primary method of communication. But what about the future? Will email continue to be a major method of business communication and collaboration? Probably not, but definitely not until the Baby Boomers are completely out of the workforce, because this is their preferred method of communicating.
Email is not dead, but may be moving in a different direction. eMarketer reported that in a recent survey by its email marketing firm, 88 percent of respondents mentioned email marketing as the most mentioned marketing software. The same study also showed that 65 percent of businesses would be allocating money to email marketing technology in the next year. There are reasons that email needs to stay and reasons it needs to go; let’s take a look at each, starting with reasons to stay:
- Email Is Ubiquitous - Email has been on the market for more than 30 years, so its role in enterprise business actually antecedes the Internet. Email has consistently grown over time, and today email is the only communication tool with almost 100 percent adoption across small, medium-sized, and large organizations. In reality, email can be used in order to deliver any message from any platform, regardless of provenance or destination. Unlike other modern communication and collaboration tools, there’s no need to invite individuals or organizations to join into email—they’re already assigned an email address and email box upon joining the company. As enterprises endeavor to manage many siloed cloud applications, email remains the one consistent application that business users can rely on, which is also a factor that has played into email’s adoption as a comprehensive tool for business activities.
- Email Is Used for Both Communication and Project Management - In addition to acting as a communication tool, businesses use email as a casual document archive and project management tool. Email can be designed to delegate and track tasks, share important documents like work orders, and manage calendars and mailing lists. Business users who prefer to minimize the number of tools they have to check on a daily basis often choose email as their center of communication, primarily because everyone has email. Although many workers are using newer collaboration technology tools, email can still be used in order to complement best-of-breed solutions.
- Email Works in Aggregation with New Technology Applications - New collaboration tools are being introduced or are maturing at a fast pace and often compete directly with email applications. The good news is that email still complements these new and maturing tools, making it an essential for all workers. An example of this is a sales worker who adds notes to Salesforce.com on a new prospect, then publishes a team update on an enterprise social media tool like Yammer, and then adds payment details into an Enterprise Resource Planning cloud system. In the end, email can be used in order to monitor notifications and updates, allowing users to focus on the big picture.
However, because email wasn’t specifically designed as a project management tool, it can cause major information overload. Forward-thinking companies are looking to new email best practices and email management tools in order to better serve the needs of knowledge workers, which may eventually cause email to evolve into other tools. Some of the reasons follow:
- Email Is Abundant - Inboxes are deluged with emails from many different sources. Folders, inbox rules, and flags can only help so much. Trying to get to the desired communication is incredibly inefficient, so to increase productivity, workers need to get to the point as quickly as possible.
- Email Isn’t a Form of Real-Time Communication - In order to be truly competent, teams need a real-time exchange of information, and that only happens when a worker is right in front of his or her screen responding instantly. Even then, email is not effective when two or more people are trying to exchange information or discuss important news. In order to be as productive as possible, everyone involved needs to be able to collaborate easily and seamlessly from the tools they use most.
- People Spend Too Much Time Checking Email - It’s the first thing that employees do Monday morning and the last thing they do Friday afternoon: check email. According to a recent survey, workers questioned estimated that they spend 6.3 hours a day checking emails, with 3.2 hours devoted to work emails and 3.1 hours to personal messages.
Considering how enterprises work today, it is clear there is a need for change. But will it be within the next few years? Probably not. Email will most likely continue to evolve and grow, but will most likely not be fully replaced. Value-added resellers can work with customers in order to decide their future in email.
Is your company replacing email with other collaboration tools or simply enhancing email? Please comment below.