Email has been the bedrock of business communication for decades now, but the new world of mobile technology is starting to create new options for business users. Just five years ago, the concept of texting a customer or colleague was almost unheard of. Now, it’s becoming more and more common. Mobile collaboration apps such as Slack, Asana and HipChat help teams communicate and share documents more efficiently than email. As team communication and collaboration continue to change, is it possible that the way we’ll use email for work in the future will be very different? Will email go away completely?
The 9-to-5 workforce is more mobile
Let’s start with team communication and collaboration. The main reason for the rocket-ship rise of apps like Slack is because email wasn’t designed for the way people work today. Previously, people were expected to commute to the office, work from 9 to 5, and then drive back home. Nowadays, more companies have teams that don’t sit in the same office, building or even the same city – so face-to-face meetings are becoming a thing of the past. We live in a mobile economy where there has been a vast increase in the amount of people considered “mobile workers” who work remotely either part time or full time (IDC predicts there will be 1.75 billion of them by 2020). These mobile workers that collaborate on projects together over email can quickly get frustrated because there is way too much email noise and it’s hard to keep track of the actions at hand. This is where collaboration apps are filling the gap and causing a decline of email usage in the workplace.
The disappearing line between work and personal communication
The changing workstyles are eroding the divide between work and life. The introduction of mobile devices into the workforce means that we can now work at home or attend a personal appointment such as a doctor’s visit during work hours. People are checking their phone in the doctor’s waiting room or editing a document on a train. Mobility has become interchangeable with productivity as workers expect to leverage their mobile technology at work. Given the blurred line between work and personal communication, users need a universal communication platform that allows for increased productivity that spans across both of these worlds. It’s clear many people do not use email outside of work, especially if they are under the age of 25. Instead, texting is emerging as the universal platform that merges both personal and work.
Texting is universal
More people are using mobile communication with contacts outside of their company. This is where text messaging (SMS) and messaging apps like WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WeChat come into play. While business users have many options to choose from when communicating with people outside of their own company, there is no way to know which of these proprietary messaging apps the other person uses. Because users switch between different apps to communicate, this wastes valuable time and energy. That said, a text message is the de facto way to get in touch with people. In fact, 72 percent of people say they prefer texting over messaging apps for work. Of course, they could send an email – but will it be read now? Later? Never? Email has become a black hole in some cases. What if we need to communicate something now? Texting is becoming the only universal way to communicate with another person because it’s an industry standard.
Analysts say more than 90 percent of text messages are read within minutes. There are more and more text messages being sent for business purposes – and this can only grow as the millennial generation and the post-millennials (or Generation Z) continue to come into the workforce. These generations grew up on their cellphones – not on computers – and they certainly don’t prefer email!
Outlook was launched 20 years ago to solve this problem by organizing email with folders or labels. Text messaging needs to get the same treatment today. Instead of focusing on collaboration, communication apps should also integrate texting, contacts, calendars and tasks in one place, to make business users more productive with the things they do most. Users can then organize and prioritize texts to find the important ones easily, send calendar availability to secure meeting times faster and manage to-do lists more simply. By displacing email as the go-to business productivity and communication tool, texting is helping busy people get organized and get more done.
Author: Bruce Kornfeld