Is E-Mail Becoming Outdated? Preparing for a Shift in Communications Infrastructure

Is it Time for a Shift?
Is E-mail Becoming Outdated?

Is E-mail Becoming Outdated? Preparing for a Shift in Communications Infrastructure

E-mail has been a feature in office life in some form or another since the 1970s – no small feat in technology, where trends shift every few months. Now, with the advent of Slack, Microsoft Teams, and similar instant chat and communications tools, the technology industry is asking whether e-mailing is finally becoming truly dead.

The truth is, it depends on whether you're looking at e-mail's strengths or weaknesses. Either way, the next several years will see a revolution in organizational communication, and your organization will need to prepare for a shift to Unified Communications (UC) to remain competitive.

The Strengths of E-mail

In some respects, e-mail is as strong as it's ever been. Some might argue that in the digital age, it's stronger than ever before. One of the greatest strengths of e-mailing is its incredibly high market penetration and the commonality of usage. People sent and received 281 billion e-mails each day in 2018, and that number is expected to rise to 347 billion e-mails each day in 2022.

Who is sending all of those e-mails? More than 90 percent of people over the age of 15 and 91 percent of people aged 15 to 24 used e-mail in 2017. Despite the prevalence of social media and instant messaging apps, more than 3 out of 4 of teenagers consider e-mailing a fact of daily life. Numbers remained mostly steady, with 93.4 percent of people aged 25 to 44, 90.5 percent of people aged 45 to 64, and 85.5 percent of people over 65 e-mailing as well.

In addition, people who use e-mail tend to use it constantly. Most of us check our e-mail every day, with the average person checking their e-mail about 15 times per day. We also engage with e-mail early – one in five Americans check their e-mail as soon as they wake up, and 55 percent of Americans check their e-mail at some point before going into work.

Where E-mail is Slipping

That said, e-mail does have weaknesses in certain key areas, which can be sources of ongoing consumer and organizational frustration.

Lost Productivity

While it is possible to revamp your productivity by converting e-mails into tasks, the reality is that the way we check e-mails is a drain on our productivity.

We said earlier that the average person checks their e-mail 15 times a day. That doesn't sound like so many until you realize that the average office worker receives 121 e-mails per day, many of them irrelevant to the recipient.

Between checking work and personal e-mails, the average office worker loses 28 percent of their workweek to e-mail. Keep in mind, we don't simply check e-mail. We also have to respond to e-mail.

The Fruitless Pursuit of Inbox Zero

This wasted time occurs, in part, because workers are trying to reach the lauded inbox zero, ensuring that no note or query gets lost in the shuffle. The problem is that your e-mail is working against you.

While spam filters are improving, 45 percent of your e-mail is still spam. Then there are the e-mails that you want but are a nuisance – services you use and enjoy that barrage you with automated messages on top of your usual transactional e-mails.

Plus, the act of wading through e-mail is itself another productivity killer. We tend to read an e-mail within six seconds of receiving it, but it takes up to 23 minutes to regain focus after interrupting one task with another.

What About Instant Message?

This brings us to instant message e-mail alternatives like Slack, Hangouts Chat, Facebook Workplace, and Microsoft Teams.

Most happy Slackers share a few common traits: the tech industry is overwhelmingly represented, as are young workers who came of age in the era of online messaging, and, surprisingly, management. Rank-and-file employees are most likely to share concerns about Slack adoption.

And on the note of Slack adoption, offices do not usually simply adopt Slack, the way you adopt a new expense system for the finance department. Slack arrives like news of a restructuring (in fact, it often goes hand-in-hand with restructuring).

Among rank-and-file employees, the most common sentiment was mixed feelings. Workers were especially concerned with privacy and productivity. Slack is administered by workplaces, but a system of codified social customs and niceties has yet to be solidified. Is instant messaging a solution to e-mail? The consensus seems to be that while it offers helpful solutions to the right work environment, it has yet to prove itself as a replacement for e-mail.

Is E-mail Becoming Outdated?

This brings us to our original question: is e-mail becoming outdated?

Yes and no. Yes, the old method of handling e-mail is becoming outdated. When workplaces expect ever-increasing productivity and efficiency, the amount of time wasted on e-mail is no longer sustainable.

On the other hand, e-mail is so widespread and effective at reaching the desired audience that it is unlikely to exit the scene any time soon.

In short, e-mail isn't what needs to change. But your communication system does need to change to reflect the changing expectations of what workplaces can accomplish.

Smarter Unified Communications

Instead of relying on disparate communications systems and trying to bring them all together into one system, it's time to make the shift to a unified communications ecosystem.

We make it easy for mature digital organizations to develop an effective Unified Communications strategy, improving the way that your workforce communicates and collaborates. Regardless of your tool of choice, we're here to help you build your future workplace.

Maximize Productivity with Unified Communications

Ready to see how your communications can be stronger than ever before? Learn more about our Unified Communications solutions.

Discover UCSimple

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Author

Thino Ullmann Go-To-Market Manager Central Europe

Microsoft products with a focus on Modern Workplace and Cloud Computing

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