In September 2008 I predicted the death of email as we know it within 10 years, to be replaced by something more collaborative in the social world we now find ourselves living in.
When I first made this death of email prediction people laughed in my face, literally.
Don't get me wrong I don't dislike email, it's a great linear communication tool but it has limitations in today's world particularly when we talk about collaboration.
Does this sound all too familiar?
An email arrives in your inbox that has been sent to 30+ people asking for feedback on the attached PowerPoint presentation. Person A responds with a 'reply to all' message with their feedback. Person B comments on their feedback with a 'reply to all'. Person C responds with a 'reply to all' adding their feedback on the presentation. Person C also responds with a 'reply to all' commenting on the feedback of Person A and Person B and so it goes on.... Before you know it there is a discussion going on in your inbox and you now have 50 unread emails that were not there when your meeting first started an hour ago.
Factoid: According to the Radicati Group, the average corporate user sends and receives 110 emails a day. If we say it takes on average 90 seconds to either read or write an email, that equates to 2 hours 45 mins a day or nearly 14 hours a week on email.
I spend more time on email than I do with my family.
These days companies are always looking to increase productivity of their employees and for them to be more efficient, whilst needing to communicate and collaborate more easily. Spending 14 hours a week on email is no longer an acceptable working practice.
Was the Death of Email crazy prediction really that crazy?
Let's be clear, life did exist before email and businesses did function (I know the thought of the death of email brings some of you out in a cold sweat).
If you look how technology has evolved over the last forty years since email was introduced, and how it has influenced behavioural changes in the way we communicate and collaborate, it stands to reason that at some time in the near future email will become a thing of the past.
If we only look back five years to July 2006, the first tweet was sent which begun to evolutionise how we communicate. Today there are over 200 million users generating in excess of 200 million tweets a day and handling over 1.6 billion search queries a day on Twitter. This is being used by many as an alternative communication channel (not replacement) to company emails.
Facebook was opened to the public in September 2009. Three years later it has 200 million users and today it has reached over 600 million users. It has also recently introduced an alternative to email that they brand as "definitely not email".
Google Wave came and went in 2009/2010 but the concept of an alternative to email was born. A lot of media hype around the failure of this was down to product and the fact that people didn't get it. However there are other allegedly conspiracy theories around this, one being that it was pulled by Google because they felt it was competing against it's own Gmail product. Personally, I think they just under-estimated the cultural change of such an innovative concept.
Google+ (Google Plus) is the latest social platform currently in soft launch mode and soon to be released, which could see it also competing against the standard email.
Maybe the death of email is not as far away as we think....
Check out this incredible video by Red Sky Vision who have talked to a number of companies (Able and How, CorpComms Magazine, Melcrum, Headshift to name a few) about how social media in the workplace is changing their communications:
The speed at which new social technologies are being introduced is growing exponentially and it won't be long before the replacement for email will arrive (or maybe it already has).
For me personally, I cannot wait until that day and stand by my crazy prediction that this will happen before the end of 2018.