Some say that email will eventually be consigned to the history books. But are they right? And could you adapt your working and social life to other forms of communication that negate the need for email?
An inbox full of unnecessary CCs, spam mail and important memos that go unread certainly makes the point look valid, and when you consider that on average we’re swamped with around 100 emails at work per day, it would be much more tempting to reply to a post on your wall with just a few words.
So if you’re ready to make the move away from email, what alternatives are available?
Perhaps the most rounded alternative to email in a corporate sense, Yammer offers a private social network for companies. Think of it as a corporate Facebook, allowing users to have conversations by writing on each other’s walls. Instead of liking pictures of skateboarding dogs, bosses can arrange meeting times between co-workers, chat to individuals and link to documents that can be seen by others instantly.
Customers using Yammer include Shell, Deloitte, DHL, Ford and eBay. The whole service looks incredibly clean and functional, and it’s easy to see why businesses are choosing it over a traditional email client as it offers so much more in a neater package.
Conciseness and brevity are what most people look for when communicating. It’s no surprise that businesses want to cut down on the lost productivity of responding to various emails throughout the day, while personal emails are much more likely to be read all the way through when they are short and sweet.
Shortmail is an email service that encourages brevity. Why? Well, according to Shortmail’s developers, ‘Twitter’s length-limited messaging has transformed public discourse. We believe we can transform interpersonal communications, which has seen little innovation in 40 years.’
Much like Twitter then, Shortmail only allows users to send messages with 500 characters or less. There are also no attachments included. It integrates with your social media accounts you can set emails to be public or private. Primarily for personal use, Shortmail is also beneficial for small businesses in the way that FAQs from individuals and deals or promotions can be seen by even more potential customers.
It goes without saying that the instantaneous nature of Twitter makes it the ideal communicative tool. There are some advantages over email that make it a suitable replacement. Namely, tweets don’t get lost in the myriad of messages we can receive every day.
Businesses are also turning to social media to interact with their customers more quickly and a number of individuals now rate customer service on how quickly a business will respond to a tweet, not to a question or complaint in an email. Twitter beats email in terms of immediacy too, and besides, who wouldn’t want to receive a 140-character message over a 400 word email with 6 reports attached?
Is the art of conversation dead? In a social sense, it may well be, but video chat could revive it and by most accounts, it’s already having a crack.
Chatting via Skype, Facetime or in-house programs make sense when you want to convey a lot of information to a group of people without the risk of it getting saturated in an exhaustive email. Video chat can also eliminate the need to send lots of emails for clarification on certain points as well as giving some businesses a more personal approach, reviving the dying ‘meeting-over-lunch’ culture that modern business was built on instead of a few words quickly bashed out on a keyboard.
One of the shortfalls to the internet boom of the late 1990s was how it affected traditional communication methods. Suddenly, the new digital messenging service presented as electronic mail took over as a much quicker and more convenient alternative to actual letter writing. But at what cost? Letters sent through the post are at an all-time low due to the rise in social media. Can you count on one hand the number of times you’ve sent a letter in the last decade that wasn’t a card? Is there a possibility that paper mail could become the preferred method of contact for us again?
Of course, the reason email is so successful is due to its resolute efficiency. But what it can’t deliver is the personal touch or sincerity of a handwritten letter.
Another innovative service to offer a viable alternative to email is Chatter.
Similar to Yammer, it simplifies communication in businesses through applying a social platform to the workplace. It’s a simple formula of applying the huge success of social networking at company level. A free program, the sign-up process is easy and the network promises security.
Shared workspaces mean that your colleagues/invitees can comment on files and projects you’re working on to help you out and the desktop assistant allows you to easily drag and drop files onto your profile in seconds. It even offers mobile functionality in much the same way that the Facebook app does, and you can preview documents and files on tablets with ease. It’s not just big businesses that could adopt these email alternatives – it can work just as well for creating family and friends groups that need to share information instantly.