Over on RWW, Alex Iskold posted about email, asking whether or not it is in danger. Alex pointed out that there are some threats to email, in the form of Twitter, Instant messaging and SMS. Alex came up with a diagram to illustrate the areas that email has traditionally been used, and where it’s strengths lie;

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Alex uses the fact that email is poor at broadcast, discussion and business to come to the conclusion that, while email isn’t going to disappear anytime soon, new tools are a threat to how much we do via email. He suggests a splitting of the ways – with consumers moving to new forms of communication and enterprise remaining wedded to email. It’s most informative to read the comments under the post – the consensus seems to be that email is here for the long haul.

Conceptually I’m all with Alex on this one, but in practice the reality is closer to what Zoli points out in his post. Twitter, IM and SMS are mainly used in a social context. The fact is that most employees will use these tools where appropriate, but will revert to email where an audit trail or a historical sequence is required.

More to the point we’re seeing tools such as Xobni that aim to make it easier to utilise the power of the network, directly via email. This, is to a certain extent reinforcing emails position as the medium of choice.

Sure Wiki’s and IM are great for some things (Wikis for a collaborative project, IM for short sharp “mindbursts”) but email is still the primary tool and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Zoli posted this diagram which try’s to depict the continuum for communication – I would title it the early adopters communication continuum but regardless of that it’s an interesting concept.

Communication Continuum

Either way email is here for the long haul – sure different products (be they add-ons like Xobni or disrupters like Gmail) will come and go but it’ll take something significant to damage the momentum that email has, especially within business use.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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