Email is not dead. It’s not dying. It’s not even mildly uncomfortable. It’s here to stay regardless of what you hear from pundits, reporters and social media evangelists. There are many fundamental reasons why email will remain atop the communications throne for the near, and possibly, long-term. Here are just a few:
Rome Was Neither Built Nor Broken In a Day
Email’s critics often cite social media as the messaging platform’s successor. Perhaps the most ironic facet to this argument is that social media platforms leverage email within their own systems. It’s a step back to the era before unified email addressing, but it’s still an email system, albeit a closed one.
To hear pundits tell it, today’s younger generation – who will soon take their place in the business world – will suddenly look down at their keyboards in disgust and swear off email because it is passé. These people need to be reminded that it’s communications methods which are being discussed, not last year’s fashions. The telephone is almost 140 years old but no one seems to be writing its epitaph. Just because a new communications platform or device goes mainstream, doesn’t mean its predecessors are on their way to extinction. It simply means that businesses and consumers are developing new interaction methods, which will generate their own unique contexts.
Business Customer Context
The concept of context is critical when discussing the viability of communications platforms. Today’s employee juggles multiple action items on a daily basis which means that prioritisation is a key trait to own. Instant messaging and social media’s “look at me now” delivery is counterintuitive to employee productivity because it makes the user abandon what he or she is doing in order to reply. Have you ever been on Facebook and been pinged by a marginal friend? Isn’t that really annoying? Imagine that but with your boss looking for a report that is due by the end of the day. Email takes the urgency out of basic communications so employees can complete tasks at their own pace and ensure all urgent matters are handled appropriately.
Do Companies Want to Friend their Employees?
As a company, does it make sense to rely on a third-party platform for all of your business communications? I can tell you from experience that companies are hesitant to rely completely on another organisation for all of their data, particularly with services that are delivered over the cloud. In fact, for the next five to ten years, businesses will likely adopt a ‘Just Enough On-Site’ approach to business communications. Why? Because as much as Analysts and Bloggers would like Corporate IT to be greenfield sites, the reality is completely different and production systems don’t transition overnight. Plus, could you imagine organisations trusting their communications without basic security and SLA’s?
Do Employees Want to Friend their Employers?
Forget about the evaporation of personal vs. public personas and focus just on the logistics. Social media platforms are closed communications systems; that is, in order to eliminate email from a business entirely, a company’s entire workforce would need to be migrated to a specific platform. This may work just fi ne for internal messaging but what about customers, partners and vendors outside of your network? You can’t count on everyone in the world using the same social networking site, but you can count on just about everyone having an email address.
Email is Changing, Not Fading
The future of email is almost certainly in the cloud – either as a facilitator or destination - as there are several interesting email systems with good email interfaces and capabilities.
Innovation is still alive in this industry so we haven’t seen all that email has to offer yet. As you can see, email and social media each have complementary strengths and weaknesses, with neither of them threatening to overtake the other any time soon. Businesses must utilise the best tool for the task at hand and, as of right now, that requires both email and social media.