Is Email’s Reign Coming to an End?

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Two years ago, I wrote an article for GigaOM Pro entitled Email: The Reports of My Death are Greatly Exaggerated (subscription required), in which I explained why email is such a useful tool and why I thought it was unlikely to be replaced as the primary business communications medium any time soon. In the time since then, however, we’ve seen a wave of newer cloud-based communications and collaboration products taking the enterprise by storm. Could email be overtaken by these?

While it’s been widely reported that teens no longer use email, it seems that attitudes to email are changing in workplace, too. According to a new GigaOM Pro report, The Future of Workplaces (subscription required), which surveyed 1,000 decision makers and end-users about the ways that workplaces are changing, workers don’t necessarily believe email will continue to be such a critical tool in the future:

Key Technologies: Future Use

The report’s authors highlight the fact that, while the respondents believed they would use newer technologies like VoIP and videoconferencing increasingly in the future, the more traditional tools like email and the office landline showed a noticeable downward trend.

These findings shouldn’t be surprising; having a greater range of useful (and relatively inexpensive) communications tools at our disposal means we can pick the best tools for a given job, which should make our communications more effective. The availability of tools like Dropbox and box.net, for example, has greatly simplified the process of sharing files with others, and should mean fewer people trying to send large files as email attachments. And for internal office communications, social business tools like Yammer and Chatter make for easier conversation than can be had over email distribution lists. However, even though we now have a greater range of useful tools to call upon, I think email will continue to play a vital role in our business communications for the foreseeable future. It has advantages — such as being simple, asynchronous and virtually universal — that aren’t all shared by its newer competitors. Don’t expect to see it going the way of the dodo just yet.

For more insight on the way that our workplaces are changing, check out the full report over on GigaOM Pro (subscription required).

Image Source: GigaOM Pro

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