RIP Email 1970-2015
Email revolutionized the way the world communicates. However, Enterprise Social Networks are quickly replacing email as a better, more efficient way to communicate in the workplace.
The ability to send mail electronically in a matter of seconds revolutionized the way the world communicates. Over the past 20 years email has done as much as any invention to progress and unite humanity. However, as with most great inventions, better more efficient tools are created that completely change the game. Email will not disappear overnight, but its decline and eventual death are inevitable.
Why is the Death of Email Inevitable?
There are two main ways that people use email: a) for personal reasons, and b) for work reasons.
Let’s take a look at the personal communication side of email. Certainly some people still use emails to send family photos, share funny videos, discuss vacation plans or pass on long-email chains threatening you with 10 years of bad luck if you don’t forward this to everyone on your contact list.
However, younger generations are growing up using a completely different set of tools to communicate. A recent study conducted by the Argentine Enterprise University showed that the young Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2005) barely uses email at all. 79% recognized that email is not an essential part or simply no part of their online lives.
Generations are being raised without the use of this tool. How come? The answer: there is a better product out there. There are more personal, more efficient, and more fun ways to communicate. The same way that email once revolutionized personal communication by allowing for free instantaneous communication with groups without regard to geographical barriers, now email is being substituted by social networks like Facebook and Twitter, where people can message each other, share pictures, and post videos instantly in a friendlier more social way. Social networks allow people to connect across borders, start social discussions with people outside their closed network, incorporate new useful apps and get real-time status updates from friends and family.
Enterprise Social Networks: The Final Dagger
The last bastion of email was found in the workplace. Email was the way people took care of “serious work” allowing them to collaborate on projects, communicate internally, and deal with clients. However, as the quantity of emails has greatly increased, navigating bottomless inboxes and endless email chains (Re: Re:, Re:, etc.) has become a very inefficient way to find the information and people you need to get work done.
According to the Radicati Group, the average corporate user sends and receives 110 emails a day, which if it takes about 90 seconds to either write or read an email (a pretty low estimate), the average corporate user will spend 2 hours 45 minutes/day or nearly 14 hours per week dealing with his/her inbox. A McKinsey Global Institute study has a higher figure and estimates the average business person spends abut 28 hours each week writing emails, searching for information, and collaborating internally.
Either way, the reality is that email for work purposes is inefficient. It is a linear communication tool. It was meant for 2 people to have a conversation.
Email was not designed to support the kind of collaboration that defines modern businesses.
People need instant communication across global teams, feedback in real-time, and know-how exchanges across departments and company hierarchy levels. Email simply does not provide an efficient way to solve these problems.
Enterprise Social Networks do. They provide an open flexible platform where people from different departments in different places can collaborate in real time during the entire process of creating and executing a project. ESNs drastically improve innovation and the idea generation process in your company by making it easy to search for internal experts and loop in coworkers from different teams. The entire company benefits from shared information. And mobile apps allow you to have access to all your business information and stay in touch with your teams even on the go.
The way we communicate in our personal lives and in the workplace has changed. Email was the building block for this change, but as with most innovations, it is now being replaced by a more effective tool. Facebook and Twitter are the primary forms of personal communication while Enterprise Social Networks are the most effective ways to conduct business and collaborate internally.
As the younger generation grows up—a generation that has been raised with instant communication tools and social networking platforms—people and businesses that stick with the old forms of communication will fall behind.
My advice to businesses: be an early adopter. Get ahead of the learning curve and start taking advantage of these innovative tools to help your teams get things done today.