It’s February. It’s cold, Fabio Capello has just hindered our chances at the Euros and The Queen has just celebrated 60 years in the hot seat. We’re only a few weeks days in. What else can we look forward to?

If recent views are to be listened to, we can look forward to the end of email as we know it.

More and more email we receive comes complete with a line at the end saying something to the effect of ‘reduce your carbon footprint by only printing this email if it’s absolutely necessary’. A perfectly valid point and one which very few can argue against, but what about a line at the beginning saying ‘only send this email if it’s absolutely necessary’?

We did some very basic research in the office this week. We all measured how many emails we received on one given day (Tuesday). The winner got 59. Of that total, 28 were genuine emails from clients, suppliers or stakeholders that required a response. The rest were a heady mix of e-marketing, newsletters and the bane of everyone’s life, the ‘reply all’.

So what can we do about it?

The way we communicate has dramatically shifted over the last few years. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are all jostling for ‘messaging’ space in the market and they all seem to be edging forward. Instant messaging, texting and ‘Facebooking’ are becoming more and more the go-to means of communication for social and personal interaction, but what about the way we communicate at work with colleagues, clients, suppliers and stakeholders?

According to Simon Lunness, Customer Services Director at ITbuilder, ‘communication is the lifeblood of our company and email is the best vehicle we have. We are seeing ever improving and innovative medium arriving with social networking tools and feeds offering similar levels of connectivity. Is this the end of email? On a personal level, almost certainly. My friends now text, tweet or Facebook me, rarely is there an email.

On a business level, it’s not quite as defined.

Simon continues ‘the methods and processes of business infrastructure are too ensconced in email. Email offers business a tried and trusted line of communication with a full suite of management and appraisal tools to support it. Email is part of business culture in the same way Facebook is now part of our personal culture. Is this the end of email? Yes and no!’

Do you remember the days when you logged on twice a day to check your email? Now, it’s in your pocket and you have the choice of how to communicate. Send an email, send a text, tweet or post on Facebook. The issue with email is that in the age of 24/7 connectivity, texts, tweets or Facebooking offers the required level of immediacy we crave. You no longer need to send an email to your friend checking your arrangements, you simply check their Facebook status or where he or she is via 4Square.

In addition, with the advent of myriad secure, cloud-based tools like Microsoft SharePoint where you can share and proactively manage the flow of information, the traditional methods of emailing documents with changes made by entire teams of people is slow, confusing and will only end up one way. It drastically affects productivity and most importantly, profitability.

Writing in The Observer newspaper back in November, John Naughton, the Irish academic and writer and impressively titled Professor of Public Understanding of Technology at The Open University says ‘organisations are addicted to email. The average employee now gets something like 100 emails a day and coping with that deluge has become a major challenge of our working lives’.

He goes on ’organisational addiction to email has long since passed the point of dysfunctionality and now borders on the pathological, with employees sending emails to colleagues within metres of them, people covering their backs by cc-ing everyone else and managers carpet-bombing subordinates with attachments. The real problem, in other words, is not that email is dying, but that’s it’s out of control’.

As always, the ITbuilders are here for you whenever you need us and whatever you need us for. 

Have a good month and we’ll see you in March.

The ITbuilders.