Tuesday, February 28, 2012

the end of email?

end of the road?

More articles are emerging about the end of email. This may seem almost as momentous as the end of history. But before you go buy some carrier pigeons, the discussion so far is only about internal company email.

For such email, the future is looking less and less secure. Personally, I don’t mind email for business - for me it is quick, leaves a paper trail, is date stamped automatically...and, importantly, I have the guts to delete now and delete often, where appropriate.

But the people doing the research are telling us that many inside companies, including CEOs, are spending up to 20 hours a week doing nothing but dealing with email. There is a plethora of advice about how to stay on top of email, how to ration the time you spend on it, email etiquette and so on, but still the tool (and that’s all it is) more often produces inefficiency than the reverse.

One of my biggest bugbears with inter-company or inter-firm email is that someone can spend ten valuable minutes sitting on her or his butt carefully composing an email to me, when I’m just a few steps away. How about some old technology folks? Like walking and conversing? It would help your health.

This article in the The Sydney Morning Herald says that French company Atos (74,000 employees) aims at banning internal email completely by 2013.

CEOs are looking at new ways of doing things. Using micro blogging for short announcements to multiple people (that don’t need an answer), electronic scheduling tools for getting people together without the discussion, instant messaging for a quick word with someone on a different floor, and Facebook-style interfaces for more efficient conversations.

This article by Jill Duffy  makes a case for the superior utility of social media style communication tools within companies: “brevity by design”, a team ethos, actually including more people across departments in discussions.

While this is about internal company email, not email generally, you never know how these things can spread. Futurists might indulge in some wild-seeming speculations about this trend -- and who’s to say what the future of email will be? Watch this space.

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