Over the past couple of years a number of people have said to me that Email will have disappeared from the business landscape within 10-15 years, Trefor Davies sparked this conversation again in the office today.
Whilst I agree that nothing lasts forever I’m not convinced that Email will be usurped so easily and such a short timeframe.
Let me make it clear though, I do want this to happen, I love the thought of another technology coming along that fulfils the function of Email, but that does it in such a compelling way that businesses feel they must adopt it or fall behind.
And this is the crux of the argument. Its not a case that a better Email will come along, its a case that a better way of getting information to another person anywhere in the world in a controlled manner must come along in order for Email to feel any pressure. Its the ‘job to be done’ that must be made easier.
Consider the chain of technology that make up Email, there are many combination of this chain but I’m using MS and IBM tech as examples;
Sending application (i.e. Outlook) > server (i.e. Exchange) > open protocol (SMTP) > server (Lotus Domino) > client application (Lotus Notes)
Applications – There will always need to be an application at either end. Whether this be a mobile app, desktop app or an app that runs through the browser.
Servers – In a business environment there will always need to be a sending server, mainly for compliance, legal and traceability reasons. Clients could talk to each other via Peer to Peer, a bit like a ‘Skype’ Email system, but businesses would never allow users to communicate directly between themselves without having the final say and a secure record of what is said.
Protocol – SMTP mean Simple Mail Transport Protocol, as it suggests its simple and anyone can take it and create a system that sends messages over it, i.e. Email. Of course someone else could come along, take the protocol and improve it, but what with? SMTP allows you to send pretty much anything you like to whomever you like.
What information is left to send to send to people that we can’t now send?
We could probably share tasks and contacts a bit easier, but then if the person you’re sending too is outside of your organisation you’ve probably not got the authority to set other peoples tasks.
The application that you use to view Emails could do with an overhaul. Google have done a pretty good job with Google Apps but even with its different ways of viewing Email I don’t think it goes far enough. There’s another level of how a mailbox can be organised that I’ve been thinking about for a while. But to have the maximum impact this change would have to occur with Outlook and Gmail and unfortunately these are closed shops at this time unless investment is taken from either Google or MS.
I’d love to hear your ideas on how any of this chain can be improved from an end user perspective, send comments below.