Editor’s note: Danial Jameel, co-founder and CEO of OOHLALA.
Imagine the death of email. It’s hard to picture not having an inbox inundated with messages from friends, family and co-workers, constantly demanding your attention. But let’s leave that aside and focus our attention on the workforce.
More and more people are bringing collaboration technology tools with them to work. With this in mind, is it really that hard to imagine a world without email? In the coming years, we will see the emergence of innovative communication technologies that will almost completely reduce our dependence on email. And here is why.
Perhaps the greatest threat to email is millennials. Defined as a generation tied to their smartphones, millennials send an average of 181 texts a day, according to Mobile Marketer. As a result, they value instant gratification and receiving information quickly above all else.
A strong proof point to this claim is the education system. Colleges and universities have been forced to refocus communication efforts to reach millennials and have naturally turned to mobile technology. The edtech sector alone had investors pouring in $1.25 billion in 2013. And Silicon Valley made the highest number of edtech deals, according to CB Insights. Even as millennials graduate and enter the workforce, alumni associations are having to rethink how they can and will keep up engagement.
So if we use the education industry as an indicator of what’s to come when millennials enter the workforce, then it’s safe to say that businesses will have to reconsider communication methods and strategies much like colleges have had to do.
Communication is fragmented. From our social channels to our messaging apps to business software, the world today lacks a succinct communication experience. As such, we are forced to open various apps throughout the day to interact with friends, family members and co-workers. Email just happens to be one of them.
As we look to the future, consumers will continue to demand technologies that make their lives easier, making the utility of technologies paramount. We no longer want to go directly to websites for the latest news; rather, we want to push notifications sent directly to us. And we no longer have the time or attention span to read three-paragraph emails but instead crowd our social channels with information. Technology needs to take the complexity out of providing short, relevant and real-time information. Today it’s all about a consolidated experience.
For this reason, it’s not surprising that platforms such as Slack have built a billion-dollar valuation in such a short time. They are addressing the needs of the future, similar to the issues being addressed in the education space as mentioned above, with a platform for peer communication and collaboration: everything in one place, instantly searchable, available wherever you go.
This movement, which began with a company that introduced the 140-character tweet, has evolved into an entire industry devoted to replacing the complex email inbox. While large organizations are busy acquiring Band-Aid inbox app solutions, I recommend that we keep an eye out for startups such as Asana, Slack and Twoodo.
BYOD and the emergence of wearables
We cannot talk about the potential elimination of email in the workforce without drawing some kind of correlation to the BYOD trend. According to Gartner, 38 percent of enterprises expect to stop providing devices to employees by 2017, and half will require workers to supply their own device for work purposes. It is only logical that we will see an increase in companies taking advantage of mobile applications to simplify business processes.
The wearables device trend is showing up in businesses today, with many corporations ready to pounce on the launch of the Apple Watch. With the momentum behind wearables, we can expect to see more apps and tech tools that are compatible with these devices enter the workforce, each looking to promote productivity and efficiency. So while running from meeting to meeting, workers are now using personal texting and instant messaging for business purposes instead of email.
So what will our new world look like?
It’s clear that our communication preferences and the way in which we send and receive information has changed over the years. Messaging apps and social networks have replaced email communication, and collaboration tools are increasingly being integrated into the workforce to improve productivity.
Millennials play a large factor in driving this change. As this digital generation continues to innovate and develop new tools to make life simpler, it’s only a matter of time until email becomes another period marker on the timeline of communication technology.