A lot of people believe that email is dead.
They argue that it contains too much spam; it’s slow, and nobody wants to use it. They claim messaging works better.
For instance, many tech companies in Silicon Valley, are working towards a no email world. According to Ashlee Vance, Businessweek tech reporter - "Email is dead, or at least that's what Silicon Valley is banking on".
The co-founder of Asana, the work software startup famously said, email has "become a counter-productivity tool"".
All the statements above were made because of giant advances in communications technology over the last 5-10 years.
And it has brought about the emergence of a powerful new player in the field: chat apps.
Chat apps are really good. They help different departments or field/remote workers of a company to collaborate in real time. Employees can chat in groups and work together on ongoing projects. They can share relevant documents right there instead of emailing back and forth.
The purpose of chat apps is to keep everyone in the organization in-the-loop about what is going on in a very quick way. This minimizes the use of e-mail.
Business messaging tools also help speed up decision making.
With chat apps, it is easy to keep all the comments received in one easily searchable archive that can be assessed via mobile or desktop.
But with all the benefits of chat apps, it is still not a match for email...yet. The concepts behind email are still relevant for most corporations even if email lacks some massive improvements needed for internal communications today.
The truth is there are a lot of features in many of the leading messaging apps that do not appeal to the corporate world.
For example, email is still ubiquitous as a communication channel. It is such a big part of the corporate infrastructure that chat apps cannot kill it. Email is literally used by everyone.
So let’s get into it. Below are five reasons that will show you that instead of shutting down email, the new breed of chat apps will take email concepts and be more efficient.
1. Email isn't going anywhere
There is a misconception that email is dying.
A study done by Litmus and Fluent Inc., found that consumers think that email is more likely to be around in 10 years than Facebook, cable TV, Twitter, and other channels. Older millennials are the most optimistic about email’s longevity, with 72% believing email will still be around in 10 years. In contrast, the 55-and-up crowd, who are thought to be among email’s biggest fans, were the least optimistic about email’s future.
However just because something has been around forever doesn’t mean that it is here to stay. Take for example telephone calls. Text messages now outrank phone calls as the major form of communication among millennials.
68% of 18 to 29 year-olds say that they texted “a lot” the previous day, this number drops to 47% for 30 to 49 year-olds and to 26% for 50 to 64-year-olds.
Nielsen data indicates that average monthly voice minutes used by 18 to 34 year-olds plummeted from about 1,200 in 2008 to 900 in 2010. Texting among 18 to 24 year-olds more than doubled over this period, soaring from 600 to over 1,400 texts a month.
2. Email is well organized
Email is very structured with threads of emails easily organized, customizable with folders for specific types of mails, spam filters, deleted mails, and sent mail.
It’s organized well for both internal mails and external communications, which chat apps have traditionally been bad at.
However arguments that chat apps are perfect for internal communications only and using email for external common are common and makes sense for most organizations.
In addition, many email systems act like a customer relationship management tool and contact address book, keeping critical data like contact information and notes. This can been a good or a bad thing.
Anyone trying to get data from their sales people about a prospect or project knows how infuriating it can be when key customer data is locked away in someone’s email.
3. Email users are growing in leaps and bounds
The number of people using email worldwide is on the increase. A recent statistic forecasted the number of email users worldwide to rise to 2.9 billion users by 2019.
It is projected to grow in the U.S to 244.5 million by the end of 2017. The number is forecasted to grow to 254.7 million by 2020.
This shows that email is still useful. It is growing and it is not showing signs of slowing down anytime soon. But does that mean it won’t one day be a thing of the past?
4. Email gives you control over your communication
Email gives you a lot of control over your communication. You can have one-on-one conversations, but then CC, BCC or Forward to others in order to keep people in-the-loop.
With chat apps conversations are one-to-one, or within a group, but adding people into a thread of conversation after the thread has started, can be difficult.
However, this added layer of control in email can also create a full inbox with irrelevant communications. Anyone who has been CC’d on an email thread that is not relevant for them or that should have been a one-to-one email versus a group email, knows the pains of this.
5. Email has a forgiving response window
Chat apps are instant messaging on the fly. You are expected to respond to messages as soon as you get them. However, email users have a forgiving response window if they did not respond to messages as expected.
Actually, no one expects you to stay glued to your email accounts to receive emails or respond to emails. If you respond late to an email, it is usually assumed that you are not at your desk or you are simply not available.
The added time benefit also allows you to dedicate your attention to that mail and to the context of the mail. Whereas chat has a tendency to put you into a multi-tasking state where you are switching between different conversations and contexts.
What does it mean?
The above benefits of email do not rule out the fact that chat apps are one of the best things to happen to businesses.
Email is still strong but it has problems. It has a large response window, and people use this in order to give them more time than needed to respond. For fast moving organizations this can be painstaking and cause productivity issues.
The ability to CC, BCC and forward mails is a problem for many. Inboxes are being flooded with communications that aren’t relevant for them and that are sent just to cover people’s asses or to keep people in-the-loop. But in actuality it does the opposite as people start to tune out the massive amounts of email.
The ability to organize data in email has also created a major issue of data hoarding whereby important project and business data that should be accessible to the organization on a whole is being stored in someone’s personal inbox.
Chat apps are not going to kill or replace email, in fact we believe the best ones will take the best of what email offers and incorporate those ideas, concepts and features into chat.
Think about it for a moment:
You have a chat app that functions like an email tool. With it, you can add people to a thread, forward messages, move messages quickly, which is similar to what you can do with email.
This is what we’re working on and it’s powerful stuff.