Despite its bad rap, part II
Email’s development has followed a parallel track with snailmail: At first, old-fashioned mail was directly relevant to the personal and professional lives of its recipients. Over time, however, snailmail was overtaken with junk mail, just as email, until recently, was overtaken by spam.
Email Has Improved
Though email is still widely hated, in recent years it has improved significantly. –How?
- Spam filters have greatly improved, saving us time and a lot of frustration.
- There are an increasing number of free email providers to choose, with continually improving, easy-to-use platforms.
- Email works beautifully on digital devices, downloading quickly and seamlessly over any kind of connection.
- Gmail and other email services can sort your mail into different categories; that said, prioritizing mail according to relative importance is still a work in progress.
- Email is developing greater ‘predictive-response capability,’ i.e., providing users with partially written responses to different kinds of messages.
- Email works well in tandem with social media communication platforms like Facebook and other digital communication venues.
Email Has Lots Of Competition
While email continues to be a daily reality for most of us, that’s not the case for millennials and other tech-savvy groups. Teens, for example, are much more likely to communicate via texting and real-time platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. In fact, according to a Pew study, only 6% of them were routinely exchanging emails a few years ago. Older users also like to text, but are more likely than their younger counterparts to contact friends and family via Facebook. Other popular options, favored by varied demographic groups, include Twitter, Yik Yak, Viber, Skype, HipChat, FireChat, Cryptocat and Slack.
Unfortunately, the glut of intraoffice email is still overwhelming, with 80% of it not coming from individuals but in the form of automated receipt messages, marketing newsletters, etc. Solutions will come on two fronts: an increasing use of real-time, collaborative communication platforms–AND ‘smarter’ email systems that will be better at sorting important from routine messages.
Slack is perhaps the best-known real-time business communications platform. Its team-based design allows people to enter into and leave conversations at will, thereby enhancing efficiency, saving time and money. Other examples of email-free task collaboration tools include Trello and Basecamp.
According to several estimates, these real-time group collaboration platforms now account for over 50% of all business-client communications.
Push notifications are smartphone alerts that someone, often a business entity, has sent you a message and wants you to respond immediately. Two-thirds of us now have smartphones, so unless you turn off push notifications, your phone will frequently either chime or vibrate.
Texting has desensitized us to such notifications. Consequently, many folks fail to understand that the underlying motivation of this technology is to gain immediate access to you, your phone and, ultimately, to your pocket book. With the increasing array of mobile devices, including wearables, expect still more push notifications in the future. –Personally, while I appreciate breaking weather alerts, I find most push notifications intrusive, and so turn them off.
Interestingly, Slack has introduced a ‘do not disturb’ feature, so people can access the service when convenient for them. This makes messages retrievable and non-intrusive. In other words, it makes the system more like email! –Still another reason that email is here to stay. –In the future, email may be called something else, perhaps functioning as part of an app. Still, its basic functionality will remain much the same.