Over the past month or so, some interesting trends on the use of email have been talked about in the press.
In case you missed it, here is a quick recap. First, there is talk about Generation Y abandoning web-based email and switching to either text or social networks to communicate. Second is the buzz created when firms like European consulting major, Atos Origin, announce their intention to replace internal email with enterprise social networks.
The Kids Are Alright (without an email address)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is on record saying “High school kids don’t use email, they use SMS a lot. People want lighter weight things like SMS and IM to message each other.” A look at a report by comScore on the use of web-based email seems to support this statement.
OK, so nothing new here… anybody who has a teenager at home is familiar with this. Ask a teenager for their email address and they look at you as if you just crawled out of a cave. Instant communication is in and the shorter the better. Besides the Orwellian aspects of this (which media commentators are better qualified to talk about and debate), there is no doubt that instant electronic messaging is becoming one of the foundations of interpersonal communication.
The question for us though is if this is a fad, or is it part of a new trend in which eventually email will lose its luster and centrality in our day-to-day communication? After all, this new disruptive technology is an even bigger social shift than the adoption of paper and envelope mail to electronic formats (and the mailboxes, in-boxes, carbon copies, and so on). It is instant, it is happening now, and it ties into seamlessly into your presence and location.
The Future of Email
We have been hearing about the end of email for years now, but it still seems a little premature. The Comscore graph, for instance, does show that the older generation is actually using web-based email even more. There are several other studies showing that email is the foundation and preferred means of communication for personal and professional relationships. In fact many of these studies point out – you need an email address to register for a Facebook account! Clearly, email will not go away anytime soon – but how we use it may be changing.
In fact, the socio-cultural change that is underway with the increased use of social networks and instant communication in our personal lives is sure to find its way into our work day. This prompts the following questions –
- Are Twitter like microblogging tools, or Facebook like networking and social media communication really going to end email?
- Is email really a ‘has-been’ technology only good for contracts and corporate communication or are they complementary?
- If so, is there anything out there which can replace email?
- Or will email continue to be relevant but used for different purposes than we use it today?
We would love to hear your opinion on these questions. More on our thoughts on this subject in our next post.