Email is the Jason Bourne of online – somebody’s always trying to kill it. It can’t be done!
Not a week goes by without somebody at work throwing up hands that “email is useless”. Same thing with tech rags/sites/blogs proclaiming that email is dead. An occasional news story about a company that has completely banned email only adds to the hyperbole!
Every time I hear that, I’m thinking “BS!! Have you tried working without email for a week?”
Don’t get me wrong. I love using IM, Lync, Hipchat, Webex, BlueJeans, Skype, Slack, Sharepoint, Wiki, Confluence, DropBox & any other tool-du-jour! Heck, I love meeting people face to face and even phone calls. But, I haven’t yet seen anything that’s as effective & well-rounded as email.
Don’t believe me?
Asynchronous: I can send emails during work hours or after dinner when the family has dozed off. Try doing that with other communication channels!
Thoughtful Communication: Without email ever tried to communicate a detailed strategy or proposal that requires long explanation, backup documents & spreadsheets?
External Communication: Tried working with people outside your group/function without using email? How about working with people outside your company (e.g. partners & customers)?
Cross Geography & Time Zones: Without using email try working with people in Stockholm or Bangalore while you are sitting here in California!
Meetings/Calendaring: Try setting up an hour long meeting with a handful of people without using email/calendaring!
Universal: Whether its work, family, friends, kids’ school or Amazon/Netflix/eTrade sending you notifications, email is a universal platform for communication.
Traveling: Some of my best productive moments happen when I am fly cross continent over to Europe or Asia. Without internet or interruptions, it’s a great time to catch-up on email, read analyst reports, absorb strategy decks, etc. By the time I land at the destination, I’m a whole lot wiser. Try doing all that without using an email product (e.g. Outlook) that syncs emails onto your laptop for offline use.
I rest my case!
Bottom-line: Can you reduce email? Are there better channels of communication than email for certain situations? Can the email experience be improved? Yes, yes & yes. Can you eliminate email in corporate? I won’t bet on that – I haven’t yet seen a realistic alternative that’s anywhere close to email!
It’s no wonder that email is the killer app of this century!!