The Telegraph ran a thought provoking news article last year “Staff to be banned from sending emails”. It is interesting how Thierry Breton is approaching the issue of growing email volumes. This is one approach that is going to affect the usage of email within business. But I think a bigger threat to email is going to come from a whole new generation entering the workplace.
The other day I was chasing my daughter, she hadn’t responded to an email that I had sent her. The reason, it transpires, is that she hardly ever checks email! My daughter, Samantha, is 19 and studying at university. And I think she is typical of her generation. They have been using computers all of their lives, and are use to technology, using it to communicate and share information – the “Facebook Generation”.
My generation has grown up with email, and it is often seen as the preferred means of communication. I need an answer, send an email. I need to share a presentation, send an email. I need to make you aware of a change of plan, send an email. Other tools are used, web conferencing, instant message etc. But most collaboration is done via email.
My daughters’ generation is different, they have grown up without the need to rely on email and see little value in sending and receiving emails…
Why use email when I can share photographs online via Flickr, Facebook or Picasa
Why use email when I can get an instant response via Skype or MSN
Why use email when I can share documents via Dropbox, Scribed, or Google docs
Why use email when I can share an idea or concept with more people using Twitter
Why use email when I can organize my social life via Facebook
Why use email when I can post to a Wiki or Blog
Why use email when I can discuss online via a forum
Why use email when I can text
Why use email when I can be kept up to date via RSS feeds
The reason for this change Is many fold:
- Ubiquitous – All of my daughters friends have access to the same tools
- Simple – The user does not need to install anything, no complex setup, just register and off you go (who has read a manual for Facebook?)
- Free – These are free services. My daughter even has unlimited text as part of her mobile/cell phone contract
- Access – Always available via PC, Tablet or Smart Phone
Now it is going to be interesting when this generation enter the workplace. They are going to think today’s business tools antiquated and demand a smarter way of working. Will this be the generation that rebel and put an end to email? Only time will tell – but I think that there is a huge opportunity for Alfresco to provide systems that meets this generations collaboration needs.
As a footnote: I have solved the communication issue with my daughter. I now email her and then poke her on Facebook to tell her to check her inbox!