Email is dead… hopefully..

Or at least that’s the headline I’m hoping to read within a year of the Google Wave launch in a couple of weeks. I should have seen the challenges of email coming though. Sitting in the company lecture theatre of my old employer back in 1990 (yes that’s 19 years ago!) listening to our IT guys talking us through the concept of this new thing we had just introduced called ‘electronic mail’, it sounded so great.

But the very first reaction from the audience was a telling one:

“Great! Now if I send Bob one of these and he said he didn’t get it I will know he’s lying!” Cue lots of chuckling in the back row but you see even then it was destined to be a ‘cover your ass’ tool more than a significant value added communication tool.

Not withstanding it revolutionised our ability to communicate, especially across geographic boundaries, I would argue it came at a price and the benefits have been completely outweighed by the drawbacks. Just one look at my in-box on a daily basis and the effort it takes to respond to the ever growing list wil tell you that.

According to some research, if you receive 50 emails a day it can take up to 4 hours of that day to deal with those emails.  Worse, according to a computer scientist at Microsoft, it can take on average, 25 Minutes to “deal with each email interruption”.  25 minutes!  That’s ‘average’ folks and don’t we know it.

But apart from the obvious personal grief email creates for me there is a far more damaging consequence of email – it’s actually killing business.  More specifically it’s killing relationships.

In any service business and especially in recruitment, building personal relationships, keeping in touch, forming new bonds etc is fundamental to success. But it can’t be done effectively through email.  We are allowing email to destroy this precious ability we all have to communicate in person, to understand each other, to pick up on subtle cue’s, to read emotion in voice and reaction.

To talk.

BT, our beleaguered national telecoms guys don’t get much right but they hit the nail on the head with their marketing strap-line from the 80’s:

“It’s good to talk”

Damn right there!

(Sent by email from my iPod) 😉

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