This year saw the death of one of emails founding fathers – Ray Tomlinson. He was best known for the @ symbol and other development standards including the subject, from and date fields – that are found in every email message today.
Ray certainly witnessed the massive growth and success of email, which must have been far beyond his dreams. Usage statistics are both astounding and insane. It’s predicted that by next year the daily number of emails sent/received across the globe will exceed 220 billion each day!
Back in 2012 McKinsey found that dealing with email took up around 30% of knowledge workers time, and our research today shows that not much has changed. Through the surveys we conduct with large Enterprise customers, we regularly find that around 5% of employees are dealing with 500 – 1,000 emails each week, and across the board people’s gripes are still the same “I’m dealing with too many emails” and “I’m constantly expected to attend unnecessary calls and meetings.”
A recent UK survey on employee engagement by Kronos supports this. It found that 82% of people struggle to complete daily tasks and 40% feel that working life is too complicated.
Email has been described as a monster that continues to rule, and it remains the ‘go to’ application for most things; “It’s how we get things done, I’ll be with you in a minute, I’m just sending an email.” And we all know those super-committed people who insist on dealing with emails on holiday; “I prefer to keep in touch. I know what’s waiting for me when I get back.”
Compounding the issue is the fact that when companies DO introduce new collaboration options to improve people’s productivity and knowledge sharing behaviours, 80% of them don’t succeed. It seems everyone’s ‘maxed out’ and businesses don’t have the time to do it properly. Shadow IT teams have been at work and it’s common to find several versions of the same application in use in the same organisation.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be like this. WebEx, Skype, Jive, Chatter, Slack and many others are excellent solutions – and in most cases, the best solution for an organisation is the one they’ve already bought, but aren’t using properly.
So in the year that saw the death of email’s founding father – might the application itself be an endangered species? Perhaps not just yet – but when you think how little the millenial generation use email and the new options available to us, it can’t be far away.