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Email - on its last legs or growing up?

By monica ·
Many say email is fast approaching the end of its life. Is this true? Will social media take over as the dominate business communications channel? Or will we see a 'polymedial' approach where people become far more selective about which tools are used for which purpose?

My own experience and research suggests the latter is the way most organisations are heading. For example if a communication does not need to be retained as a business record and an urgent repose is needed, then instant messaging tools offer a great alternative to email. Meanwhile, news and status updates are well suited to collaborative tools such as wikis and discussions forums. Such an approach also helps reduce the email overload and creates a pull rather than push information culture which is both less stressful and more mature

On the other hand for all communications which need to be retained email will remain the dominant channel. However, currently email is one of the biggest drains on personal and business productivity. It is also wide open to abuse and is often an easy entry point for cyber crime.

With more choice it would not be surprising therefore if people did shun email in favour of other social media which would be akin to throwing the baby out with the bath water. In five years time we would find ourselves suffering just as badly from information overload.

More to the point is to educate people when and how to use email effectively.

What is your experience?

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Email - on its last legs or growing up?

by monica In reply to I think

Ah, Highlander718 - now you are getting to the root cause of many of the problems with email. It is often wallpaper cover much deeper management and behavioural challenges.

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and IM is even worse still with IM -nt

by Deadly Ernest In reply to Email - on its last legs ...
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Hiding

by CharlieSpencer In reply to I think

The same could be said of e-mail.

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true, except most email addresses, especially business ones, can be tracked

by Deadly Ernest In reply to Hiding

so it's harder to hide

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Why? Beats me.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Email - on its last legs ...

I'd prefer face-to-face for longer conversations, but I'll usually preface those with a call to see if the other party is 'at home' and it's convenient.

I don't get the appeal of IM at all. Perhaps it's generational, that I grew up with other methods of communication and don't understand the advantages of it.

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Call or Messaging

Messaging is better only when we want to deliver the same message to a group of people. Calling is better when we want to communicate with a single person; messaging is waste of time in this case!!

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Responses

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Email - on its last legs ...

How are we defining 'social media'? I don't see the free, publicly visible services becoming a dominant form of business communications. The issues of reliability and privacy are too big to overcome; those questions also apply to paid services. Maybe internally hosted services could supplant e-mail.

Some IM tools can retain the conversation.

I dislike the 'pull' model intensely. It depends on the intended recipient checking the site (or multiple sites). I much prefer 'push' and the assurance that the content was delivered to the intended recipients. I'd also much rather have content delivered to me than have to go out and check to see if it's been updated. I don't see what makes any method "less stressful and more mature". I also don't see what makes social networking less (or more) of a productivity waster or abuse target than e-mail. Indeed, the very name 'social media' strikes me having more potential for wasted time, implying that social activities are as acceptable as work-related ones.

I think most people already know how to use e-mail effectively, as least as effectively as they need to or interested in learning. After all, it's the older technology; people have simply had more time to get comfortable with it. Where I need help (along with those I've observed where I work) is how to get workplace value from IM, wikis, and other social tools. Most of what we do is still accomplished via shared files.

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One things I have noticed with a lot of IM messages I've seen

by Deadly Ernest In reply to Email - on its last legs ...

when visiting people and the few times I've ended up using the dang things, is they're like a lot of the text messages - -

very short on good sentence structure, short on good spelling, and many are down right rude -- seems politeness in IM and texting is not accepted or permitted due to the extra time and trouble needed. I just hope what I've seen of Im messages is not representative of them as a whole, but the evidence so far is they are.

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