Email has long been dead and buried. It is as dead as the notebook and pen. I saw this info-graphic last week and questioned when email and communication were somehow ripped apart by collaboration technologies.
There is a discussion around email that I have heard for years around the death of email. It doesn’t make any sense to me considering so many people still depend on email and use it on a daily basis for work and personal business. There are other technologies introduced that are different but do I think that they are better.. short answer is “no.”
If there were a better technology that was more effective for personal, team and enterprise knowledge and collaboration, it has yet to be introduced to the masses. Text does not replace email, text is text and I find that in text messages because the lines are blurred, it is very easy to send an unprofessional message. It is also hard to understand context in text. There is a place for text but it isn’t a replacement.
There are a lot of good tools out there that do different things and that are good at what they do but they aren’t email and they aren’t replacing email. I consider that all of these technologies are just adding more to the madness instead of solving a problem or THE problem of email.
I think back to a time when I would go to a meeting with a notebook and a pen. I would write stuff down and then go back to my work area and sort through whatever I needed to organize or keep. Today, when I go to a meeting there are cell phones, tablets, laptops and …. notebooks and pens. I hear all about the millennial generation and the way they work but the funny part of it to me is when I see 20+ somethings come to meetings, they also come with notebooks along with all the other technologies.
The funniest part of it all is that we try to replace the notebook with electronic devices that we can write on but we still bring the notebooks. I think the same thing applies with email. We are bringing all this extra stuff to the table but at the end of the day someone is going to send an email.
If you have recently looked for a job, you may have experienced sending or receiving and email to a recruiter, then uploading a resume to an hr system, then sending an email to someone else with your resume in it and then having emails go back and forth about your resume or arrangements for your job interview. This is one example of many that shows how people and behaviors override what makes sense in a logical order of operations.
Email is Here
Here is my advice to all of the folks planning on ditching email for something better. Even if you take email away somehow, people will still use it. If you don’t use email, that is fine, it like a fruitless boycott of a known and working technological capability that changed the world. If you are thinking that email will go away.. check back with me in a few years and send me a note in whatever the popular non email technology is at the time to tell me I was wrong. Otherwise, I would plan on ways to realize the benefits of email and look for ways to make it easier for email to blend and interoperate with other organizational technologies so that we aren’t doing another 10 things to be more effective and efficient in collaboration.