It’s hard to believe that email – or electronic mail – wasn’t introduced until the early 1990s when the World Wide Web was first launched for widespread use. Since then it has become a vital communications tool for businesses and people across the globe.
This free, quick and easy-to-use service has remained a hugely popular messaging platform over the years and has kept colleagues, third parties and customers.
Despite figures from Statista showing that approximately 306.4 billion emails were sent and received worldwide in 2020 alone, alternative messaging platforms have inevitably emerged and grown in popularity meaning that emails no longer have a monopoly on corporate communications – and could even be in danger of becoming obsolete.
If this is the case, what has caused emails to now be facing an existential threat? What are companies and people increasingly turning to instead?
The problem(s) with emails
There are a number of problems associated with emails and as such, many companies are switching to other platforms to stay connected.
One of the main and most obvious issues with emails is simple; they take up so much valuable time during a working day. Inboxes can very quickly become inundated with irrelevant spam and other junk mail meaning that the messages that really matter can get easily lost or get overlooked.
Frustratingly, emails are prone to being delivered late while some just don’t arrive. File limitations mean mail is regularly rejected and consequently fails to reach the intended recipient.
The sender has very little control over what happens to documents sent as email attachments, or who they are shared with once they have gone out. Companies therefore run the risk of having their sensitive information divulged to competitors or unscrupulous third parties.
Further to this, files that are sent innocuously via email could leave the sender vulnerable to breaking the General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR], with the Information Commissioner’s Office [ICO] having reported a 46% rise in data breaches linked to emails.
What will/would replace emails?
One of the big contenders emerging to replace more traditional, email-based communications are instant messaging tools – such as Microsoft Teams and Slack – and there are a number of reasons for this.
Firstly, and as the name implies, instant messaging allows for even quicker, back-and-forth communications between individuals and groups, enabling more real-time conversations to take place.
With teams being unable to work in the same physical space since the pandemic, instant messaging has been particularly useful for informal chats between teams when quick answers are needed to keep workflows running smoothly.
In addition to this, instant messaging tools typically have a persistent history in a similar sense to emails, meaning that previous messages can be retrieved for reference at any time.
These factors combined make instant messaging a more efficient method of communication than email but retain the positive functions of email – such as the ability to archive conversations.
Additionally, instant messaging removes the sense of ‘inbox dread’ that often occurs when users are away from their emails for periods of time and return to find a daunting number of messages waiting for them. It takes up valuable time to trawl through mail to see what needs addressing or discarding which in itself can be an administrative nightmare.
With instant messaging, conversations can continue seamlessly, even if one of the participants is absent.
Not only does this provide a boost to productivity it also promotes a healthier work/life balance for the absent participant, meaning they can switch off more easily in the knowledge that things are being handled while they are away.
Will emails ever really disappear?
It is highly unlikely that they will ever become phased out completely, despite the evidence that there are so issued associated with them. Email has become so entrenched in day-to-day business life that it would be difficult to imagine a time when they would no longer be used.
While instant messaging platforms are highly effective and efficient – especially for informal, internal conversation – emails will remain a go-to for more formal communications with clients and third parties.
In saying that, instant messaging clearly has the upper hand – especially in an increasingly fast-paced landscape in which workers are spending more time apart from one another.
If businesses are to consider adopting this technology, however, they will need to have a genuine appetite for change, as well as having those on board who can help guide the organisation and the rest of its workers through its digital transformation.
Business leaders need to recognise the opportunity they have to harness this technology to its maximum potential as they already have the foundations for shaping the corporate communications of tomorrow at their disposal.
How can Vantage 365 help you?
Vantage 365 is a specialist consultancy that helps businesses of all sizes get the most from their investment in Microsoft 365’s powerful suite of business tools and productivity apps. Our team of expert consultants has years of experience creating customised solutions, applications and strategies to optimise our clients’ technology, capabilities, and performance.
Our mission is to help every client reach their true potential by future-proofing their business and enabling them to thrive in today’s digital landscape. From small businesses to large enterprises, we understand that each company has unique needs and goals, and we work closely with our clients to develop tailored solutions that address their specific challenges.
Whether streamlining workflows, improving collaboration, or enhancing security, we have the expertise to maximise the benefits businesses receive from their investment in Microsoft 365. Our commitment to ongoing support and service ensures that our clients continue to achieve success and stay ahead of the curve in today’s rapidly evolving business environment.
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