Looking back a year what differences can I see in my daily life? Well apart from a shift of the business towards Business Technology Strategy and Cloud services I have also noticed the reduced use of Email. So is Email Dead?
Am I communicating less with my clients and colleagues? No I think I am communicating and collaborating more, so why is my use of Email decreasing.
Online Storage and Google Apps for Business
These two systems are the business applications I use the most, and looking at the initial results of our Business Technology Survey they seem to be yours as well, with 46% of respondents using Dropbox and just under a quarter using Google Drive. So how do they reduce my Email? Traditionally when working with clients and colleagues on projects we would work on a document draft, send it out by Email, wait for it to come back by Email, revise it and do the Email process again and again and again. With systems such as Dropbox and Google Drive there is no need, we all work on the same document held in the Cloud. No more sending drafts around. Whats even more impressive is that with Google Apps for Business you can even collaborate on the same document at the same time! Whilst both these systems reduce the use of Email, they also reduce errors. By having only one copy of the document to review and/or update,nobody has a hidden old version sitting in their Email waiting to cause all manner of trouble. In addition both systems use versioning so you are able to roll back should your document take a turn for the worse!
Skype and Google Hangouts
Why Email when you can instant message! My Instant Message systems of Google Hangouts and Skype are open on my desk (or phone) all day. I have a list of favourite (read current people I am working with) just there to hand, I can see if they are busy, away from their desk or available at a glance and simply drop them a line. If the conversation becomes in depth it can easily change to a voice or video call at the press of a button. Compared to last year, this is a much more streamlined than the flurry of Emails back and forth before finally getting an answer. There is of course a downside to this as there will be times when you don’t what to hear the ‘ping’ of a Skype notification, but trust me that is you and me, the younger of the Generation Y’s can easily deal with those interruptions, just look at your kids and how they work, last night I found my son working on 3 things at once with two different groups of people!
OK so Social Media is new (can we still say that it’s new?) and a few years back you may not have even known to Email someone about their impending new arrival or birthday but today its second nature to congratulate them on their social media timeline. With more and more businesses now making sure they are on the Social Media channels it is more and more likely that we will communicate that way. I certainly use Twitter and Google Plus to talk to a number of suppliers, and I am finding more and more that I communicate with individuals this way. By using Social Media it’s easier to manage groups of people and you create a nicely ordered conversation that is there in front of you rather than hidden in your Email folder structure or included somewhere in the body of an Email. This leads to better engagement as the conversation happens and better for review if required later.
Email IS Dead
Not quite, there is still a need for Email, not all of us are used to the nuances of Social Media but we are certainly heading that way. Even I still think messaging a potential client through Social Media or an IM a little creepy even though the contact details are there on my business cards and website for anyone to use. But Google, known at least secondly for its Email, is pushing its Social Media channel (Google Plus) hard. Its latest version of its mobile phone operating system (on 81% of phone shipments last quarter) integrates Google Hangouts, which is Part of Google Plus, even further into the handset where it now can handle Voice, Video, IM’s and SMS/Text messaging. Facebook gave us all an Email address several years back but have you ever used it and do they mention it anymore, no!, Twitter, well its never been driven by Email and Microsoft has made it clear it wants a piece of this communication action with its purchase of Skype and its ongoing integration into its Cloud Infrastructure. So it’s clear the big players are lining up to be in place as we make the move from the asynchronous world of Email to the much more ‘always on’ world. Has your use of email changed over the years? Can you see a point when you stop completely?