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Email - on its last legs or growing up?

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Email - on its last legs or growing up?

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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    HAL 9000 Moderator

    Remember the Paperless Office. Hasn't happened yet and personally I don't believe that E Mail will be ever stop being used.

    In reality any Messaging from any Business needs to be stored if only just to prove that no illegal activities where described in it. It's pointless trying to defend your business against a Fed Police Investigation because someone claimed that a entry on a Social Media Site implied that a criminal activity was intended.

    When you do not have primary control over your own data you have no control and there is no correspondence of any type that doesn't need to be stored to prove Guilt or Innocence. For instance can you imagine News International messaging anything about Phone Hacking on a Social Media site because they didn't want it in their Companies E Mail?

    From my personal experience most people do not think before they post to Social Media and they then wonder why the Police come and charge them with things that they Boast About on Social Media. They manage to convict themselves quite successfully. :^0

    Col

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    Deadly Ernest

    either the normal phone network of by VoIP? I do see business moving to use VoIP a lot more, especially between their own offices.

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    Slayer_

    I use messaging all the time, especially when talking about work order and ticket numbers, or when discussing and sending code snips.
    Or just links to youtube videos and dilbert comics :)

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    Deadly Ernest

    IM and over a telephone? I don't voicemail so I don't use it on my phone or to leave a message - to me a phone is for voice communication. With ViOP or a normal phone there's a link between the two phones, but for IM I have to go through the IM server involved, adding an extra link; plus I got to have some annoying IM program up and running instead of just picking up the phone.

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    monica

    Hi Deadly Earnest - sounds like you have an awful IM system. I love mine and my clients for quick messages and catch-ups especially when the other person is busy and doesn't want to talk but will break out to IM.

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    Deadly Ernest

    no difference in being able to talk to someone on the phone or over the headset on an IM. With the phone I don't HAVE to be at the computer to communicate, but I can using ViOP. I also get a quicker response if they're there, and know quicker if they aren't.

    If I don't need a quick response, then an email is just as good and they can answer at their convenience.

    I do not see an IM program as being a magic comms system, the way some do. I know people who sit there with three of four IMs open and switch between them, sometimes they get caught with one and it's ten to twenty minutes before they check the others again. In that case an email is just as good, while the phone quicker as they leave the PC to answer the phone or respond to Skype if using VoIP.

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    Slayer_

    That makes them better.
    That and its also nice to see if someone is at their desk two timezones away and if they can answer you right away or not.
    Email quickly becomes overkill.

    This is very similar to the texting vs talking argument for cellphones.

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    Deadly Ernest

    a no answer on a phone call let's you know they ain't available, so an email does the trick.

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    CharlieSpencer

    I've never understood why anyone carrying a phone would not use voice as the primary method of communication. Talking strikes me as faster and easier than typing.

    I'm not sure what you find formal about e-mail. There's certainly little formal about a phone call. I set the level of formality based on my audience and the message, not the medium.

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    Slayer_

    My boss has a thick Russian accent, our BA has a thick Chinese accent. I can't understand a word they say over the phone, but using IM's works just fine, no misunderstandings.
    We actually have an informal office rule, the BA is not allowed to say Beach because it comes out like B*tch, the Russian can't say fax cause it comes out as f*cks.

    I still phone them if I have something really long to say, but for a quick one sentence, IM's work fine.

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    highlander718

    but your BA and your boss can be considered as exceptions, when truly IM can help. I agree.
    Still, I have a longtime colleague, who recently wrote gays instead of guys in an e-mail addressed to multiple recipients....repeatedly ... not by accident :-)

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    Slayer_

    A miss spelled word auto corrected to incontinence

    "The system is having an incontinence issue..."


    My boss sent that to customers by accident.

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    CharlieSpencer

    I find IM to be equally annoying. I can talk a lot faster than I can type, and the lack of a spell checker annoys me to no end. If I need an immediate answer, I reach for the phone first. If it isn't urgent or I don't get an answer, I send an e-mail. I'll respond if a co-worker initiates an IM conversation, but I don't see any advantages in my situation.

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    GSG

    I use IM extensively when I'm helping someone test. I only need to be available if there are issues and they need me to look at what a message looks like in between the sender and receiver. I don't want to stay on the phone the entire time, so they just IM me when I'm needed. It's better than filling up my email as well. That way, I can get some work done instead of just waiting around until I'm needed.

    It's also a good way for 1st level tech support to know if I'm at my desk. If it's not an emergency and they need my advice on an issue, they can IM me. However, if they're going to turn over a call to me, they call me instead as it usually requires too many details for an IM.

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    monica

    Agree about using the phone. But somehow people will IM before they will either phone or better still walk and talk if in the same office. Does anyone know why?

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    Deadly Ernest

    nt

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    highlander718

    it's because people are no longer confortable talking face to face. Some prefer to "hide behind the screen", it feels safer.

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    GSG

    Management in some organizations thinks that if you aren't at your desk, you aren't working. So, IM is available, and people take advantage of it. Plus, if you work in cubicle land, it's probably preferable to IM than pick up the phone and potentially bother everyone in the area.

    I agree that face-to-face is best when possible, but I understand why IM is preferred in some situations.

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    Slayer_

    It's a big factor.

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    monica

    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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    CharlieSpencer

    The same could be said of e-mail.

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    CharlieSpencer

    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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    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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    CharlieSpencer

    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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    1 Votes
    Deadly Ernest

    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.

  • +
    1 Votes
    HAL 9000 Moderator

    Remember the Paperless Office. Hasn't happened yet and personally I don't believe that E Mail will be ever stop being used.

    In reality any Messaging from any Business needs to be stored if only just to prove that no illegal activities where described in it. It's pointless trying to defend your business against a Fed Police Investigation because someone claimed that a entry on a Social Media Site implied that a criminal activity was intended.

    When you do not have primary control over your own data you have no control and there is no correspondence of any type that doesn't need to be stored to prove Guilt or Innocence. For instance can you imagine News International messaging anything about Phone Hacking on a Social Media site because they didn't want it in their Companies E Mail?

    From my personal experience most people do not think before they post to Social Media and they then wonder why the Police come and charge them with things that they Boast About on Social Media. They manage to convict themselves quite successfully. :^0

    Col

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    1 Votes
    Deadly Ernest

    either the normal phone network of by VoIP? I do see business moving to use VoIP a lot more, especially between their own offices.

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    0 Votes
    Slayer_

    I use messaging all the time, especially when talking about work order and ticket numbers, or when discussing and sending code snips.
    Or just links to youtube videos and dilbert comics :)

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    1 Votes
    Deadly Ernest

    IM and over a telephone? I don't voicemail so I don't use it on my phone or to leave a message - to me a phone is for voice communication. With ViOP or a normal phone there's a link between the two phones, but for IM I have to go through the IM server involved, adding an extra link; plus I got to have some annoying IM program up and running instead of just picking up the phone.

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    0 Votes
    monica

    Hi Deadly Earnest - sounds like you have an awful IM system. I love mine and my clients for quick messages and catch-ups especially when the other person is busy and doesn't want to talk but will break out to IM.

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    2 Votes
    Deadly Ernest

    no difference in being able to talk to someone on the phone or over the headset on an IM. With the phone I don't HAVE to be at the computer to communicate, but I can using ViOP. I also get a quicker response if they're there, and know quicker if they aren't.

    If I don't need a quick response, then an email is just as good and they can answer at their convenience.

    I do not see an IM program as being a magic comms system, the way some do. I know people who sit there with three of four IMs open and switch between them, sometimes they get caught with one and it's ten to twenty minutes before they check the others again. In that case an email is just as good, while the phone quicker as they leave the PC to answer the phone or respond to Skype if using VoIP.

    +
    0 Votes
    Slayer_

    That makes them better.
    That and its also nice to see if someone is at their desk two timezones away and if they can answer you right away or not.
    Email quickly becomes overkill.

    This is very similar to the texting vs talking argument for cellphones.

    +
    1 Votes
    Deadly Ernest

    a no answer on a phone call let's you know they ain't available, so an email does the trick.

    +
    0 Votes
    CharlieSpencer

    I've never understood why anyone carrying a phone would not use voice as the primary method of communication. Talking strikes me as faster and easier than typing.

    I'm not sure what you find formal about e-mail. There's certainly little formal about a phone call. I set the level of formality based on my audience and the message, not the medium.

    +
    0 Votes
    Slayer_

    My boss has a thick Russian accent, our BA has a thick Chinese accent. I can't understand a word they say over the phone, but using IM's works just fine, no misunderstandings.
    We actually have an informal office rule, the BA is not allowed to say Beach because it comes out like B*tch, the Russian can't say fax cause it comes out as f*cks.

    I still phone them if I have something really long to say, but for a quick one sentence, IM's work fine.

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    0 Votes
    highlander718

    but your BA and your boss can be considered as exceptions, when truly IM can help. I agree.
    Still, I have a longtime colleague, who recently wrote gays instead of guys in an e-mail addressed to multiple recipients....repeatedly ... not by accident :-)

    +
    0 Votes
    Slayer_

    A miss spelled word auto corrected to incontinence

    "The system is having an incontinence issue..."


    My boss sent that to customers by accident.

    +
    1 Votes
    CharlieSpencer

    I find IM to be equally annoying. I can talk a lot faster than I can type, and the lack of a spell checker annoys me to no end. If I need an immediate answer, I reach for the phone first. If it isn't urgent or I don't get an answer, I send an e-mail. I'll respond if a co-worker initiates an IM conversation, but I don't see any advantages in my situation.

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    0 Votes
    GSG

    I use IM extensively when I'm helping someone test. I only need to be available if there are issues and they need me to look at what a message looks like in between the sender and receiver. I don't want to stay on the phone the entire time, so they just IM me when I'm needed. It's better than filling up my email as well. That way, I can get some work done instead of just waiting around until I'm needed.

    It's also a good way for 1st level tech support to know if I'm at my desk. If it's not an emergency and they need my advice on an issue, they can IM me. However, if they're going to turn over a call to me, they call me instead as it usually requires too many details for an IM.

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    0 Votes
    monica

    Agree about using the phone. But somehow people will IM before they will either phone or better still walk and talk if in the same office. Does anyone know why?

    +
    0 Votes
    Deadly Ernest

    nt

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    0 Votes
    highlander718

    it's because people are no longer confortable talking face to face. Some prefer to "hide behind the screen", it feels safer.

    +
    0 Votes
    GSG

    Management in some organizations thinks that if you aren't at your desk, you aren't working. So, IM is available, and people take advantage of it. Plus, if you work in cubicle land, it's probably preferable to IM than pick up the phone and potentially bother everyone in the area.

    I agree that face-to-face is best when possible, but I understand why IM is preferred in some situations.

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    0 Votes
    Slayer_

    It's a big factor.

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    0 Votes
    monica

    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.

    +
    0 Votes
    CharlieSpencer

    The same could be said of e-mail.

    +
    0 Votes
    CharlieSpencer

    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.

    +
    1 Votes

    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!!

    +
    0 Votes
    CharlieSpencer

    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.

    +
    1 Votes
    Deadly Ernest

    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.