Thursday, February 24, 2011

Is Social Media Killing Email?

A recent study by ComScore suggests that traditional email is losing steam. They note that web-based email usage declined 8 percent from Dec '09 to Dec '10. But the largest decline - a whopping 59 percent - occurred among 12-17 year olds. The second largest decline, 18%, was in the "millennial" 25-34 age group. Communication habits are changing, and each new generation will find a way to supplant/replace email with new technologies.

Some suggest that the convenience of using a social network's built-in messaging tools are partially responsible for moving a lot of communication away from traditional email clients, especially for personal communication. Businesses still seem tethered to traditional email, and will likely continue to do so, until a) there is a petter mechanism for privacy within social networking messaging tools, and b) until the messaging tools become more robust. While these messaging tools are convenient, they have limited functionality and no real mechanism for filing and archiving records of communication... Look for more robust feature sets to begin showing-up in Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

In fact, Gartner goes as fas as to say that, by 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 percent of business users.

They contend that, the greater availability of social networking services - both inside and outside corporate firewall - coupled with changing demographics and work styles will lead roughly 20 percent of users to make a social network the "hub" of their business communications. During the next several years, companies will be building-out internal social networks and/or allowing business use of personal social network accounts. Social networking will prove to be more effective than e-mail for certain business activities such as status updates and expertise location.

Says Gartner's Matt Cain, vice president of research, “The rigid distinction between e-mail and social networks will erode. E-mail will take on many social attributes, such as contact brokering while social networks will develop richer e-mail capabilities." He adds, "While e-mail is already almost fully penetrated in the corporate space, we expect to see steep growth rates for sales of premises- and cloud-based social networking services."
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