Email has been the killer app driving adoption and usage of the internet for the past 20+ years – a few years ago, most of internet traffic was email related. People quickly took on email as a means of communicating almost immediately as it was far faster than the letters and faxes of old. But during the past two decades, email has hardly changed, and it creates many challenges for business. Email is highly personal and used to store a full communications history regardless of relevance. It often holds valuable intellectual property and hinders the sharing of important corporate information; yet email remains an essential business tool.
But what of the future? Today, the email model has been turned on its head – people want to connect with others and communicate instantly online in new ways. At this point, it appears the demand for new communication technology is not being met by the development. There have been a few attempts at reinventing the way we communicate, with the highest profile being Google Buzz. This merged email with social networking, but security concerns hindered it’s adoption and Google subsequently repurposed the tool into Google+ to compete with Facebook. Currently, applications like LinkedIn are increasingly popular, and while it can sync with our business life, it is still no replacement for email. Finally, a new ALTO app from AOL aims to provide a better way to manage multiple email accounts and combine notifications from social networks like Facebook and Twitter. But is this the answer?
The growing number of young workers joining the workforce use social media as the primary- and often only- source of learning what’s happening around them. The business world is still trying to figure it all out, control it and identify where the opportunity is. But business can’t control it, and there is no way to quantify the opportunity.
In my mind, there won’t be a single killer app to replace email. It will be a gradual immergence of technologies from the consumer world (IM, Skype, texting, facebook style, etc) that will permeate through the business world. But who can tell what the future holds?
Philip Scott is the Business Solutions Practice Manager, Brennan Business Solutions.