Why Messaging can never kill EMAIL

Its funny, As I write this I am reading about the rise of Slack, the demise of AIM, the demise of Jive, and how 2016 will be the year email dies. So, lets put it in perspective, Slack is a great interface for a piss-poor protocol, it can never replace email, but could eventually co-exist with a great email client. The other chat clients do similar things, with various focus features.

As a user, I believe that each of the chat clients has strengths and is often used for different purposes. Slack is used in small teams to communicate, to chat and to share information. When I have worked with teams greater than 20 the number of channels that have to be monitored greatly exceeds the capacity of folks to monitor, and we often see people ignoring the channels until they are directly mentioned. In Chatter, we saw that a very few numbers of active employees were responsible for most of the communications, and senior decision makers were often absent. After awhile, users drifted away and back to email. Skype seems to be a ubiquitous messaging platform, with most people I know being reachable on Skype. It serves best as an informal communication platform. Calling has been much less reliable since the MSFT acquisition. Sharing data is okay, but not nearly as easy as it is on Slack. WhatsApp is one of those apps that I have played with, but have not worked with a team that is focusing on its use. I hear good things, but have not personally seen it adopted.

But .. and here’s the thing … not a single person I know; that’s right, not a single one, uses any one of these tools exclusively. They ALL use email in addition to the use of other chat clients. In most cases, they use email for activities requiring coordinated communication, recorded decisions and communication with external folks. In conversation, they all identify email as the MOST important tool they use in the enterprise. The average worker is still getting 150 or more emails, with mobile workers receiving upwards of 500 emails daily. Email is still the work-horse of the enterprise, and will be for the foreseeable future.

So, for 2016, email will remain the single most used enterprise app for all employees. It will be reviled, it will be loved, it will have some other cool capabilities added. It will be important. Using email correctly, and for the right actions is the best way to help your team be productive. Just cuz its not sexy does not mean that its not important. Chat Apps are sexy, fun and ultimately a means for people to informally communicate. For the actual work of the business to proceed, email is and will remain the go-to business application .