Death of email?

April 5, 2016

Sean Ball, marketing executive for technology and professional services consultancy Forfusion Ltd, reflects on technology which is on course to replace email in business

Last month, we heard the sad news that email pioneer Ray Tomlinson had passed away at the age of 74. He first proposed the idea of electronic messages that could be sent from one network to another in 1971.
But nowadays, email is the hunting ground of hackers, spammers and clutter bugs, all of which distract us from the very thing email is supposed to help with – efficiency.


The explosion of collaboration
According to BI Intelligence, the top four messenger apps have overtaken the top four social networking apps; so it’s difficult to envisage a future where email is not redundant.
The desire to communicate, or to phrase it more accurately, collaborate, in real time in an easy, intuitive and consistent manner is growing exponentially. In 2014, Mark Zuckerberg was reported to say: “Messaging is one of the few things people want to do more than social networking.” This explains the meteoric rise of the likes of WhatsApp, Slack and Facebook Messenger.
LinkedIn has recently revamped its messaging functionality to resemble a more collaborative feel. And Twitter, famous for its 140-character limit, removed this restriction to try and tap into the need to collaborate.
These freemium, consumer-driven collaboration apps serve their purpose. But from a business point of view, they can prove more problematic.


Collaboration still needs to be controlled
Many workers are using free apps to set up work-related groups or ‘rooms’ (in the absence of official company alternatives) to instant message (IM), and share collateral such as presentations, videos, images and other company records and property – to combat the geographical barriers that used to hold back team productivity.
However, this brings a host of logistical, legal and unnecessary complications. For example, if a colleague leaves (or is dismissed), the in-house IT team can’t lock down access in the same way they could with company email accounts – especially if that person created the group in the first place.
So how do you balance your workers’ desire to collaborate seamlessly (let’s not forgot they want to do this in order to be better at their jobs) without compromising security, scalability and ultimately control over potentially sensitive information?


Leaders in collaboration
Tech giants Cisco and Microsoft are leading the way in this area, having anticipated the trend for a while. That’s why at Forfusion, we’ve partnered with both names, becoming highly skilled in these pioneers’ technologies.
Both Cisco and Microsoft have developed collaboration tools and infrastructure (also known as unified communications and collaboration) such as Skype for Business, Spark (formerly Project Squared), Webex and Jabber.
These tools marry together IM and presence (so you know whether the person or indeed people are available, away, busy, in a meeting or in a call), as well as voice telephone (VoIP), video conferencing and document/media sharing.
Think of the efficiencies these technologies can bring – it’s a far cry from the woes of email.


Email is no longer fit for purpose
Don’t get me wrong, email has served its purpose fantastically well. Ray Tomlinson’s legacy has revolutionised communication and productivity and will serve some (albeit shrinking) purpose in the future.
But it’s clear that the needs of consumers, businesses and the world have moved on from what email alone can handle. Have you?