Email: a force for good

Its a new year and its almost traditional now for pundits to start it by questioning the continued dominance of email as the primary form of business communications. For example, research by Mail Manager claims that Poor email processes are killing productivity, with a quarter of UK-based employees spending nearly one working day each week managing their inboxes.

Think about it this is not surprising at all. In business, email replaced the traditional paper based inbox and outbox work processes. (I can remember back to pre-email work days when our internal post-person delivered mail to our inboxes). Requests for work, answering questions etc are business processes made easier by email while still leaving an archivable and evidential paper trail. Its a case of dont shoot the messenger. If staff are spending too long buried in email then its probably work processes and practices at fault, not the incumbent email system. Chat-based business applications such as Slack have set themselves up as email killers and have in the main failed. Even Slack is now forced to co-exist with email.

In another article Sam Tuke (a former writer for OH Magazine) takes a very different view of the power for good of email. Disregard the opening remarks concerning ex-President Trump and Sam makes some important points about how email systems remain a largely decentralised communications service with no overall control by any individual company (as opposed to, say, the mega social media services such as Facebook). "Freedom and utility are baked into email's foundations" Sam writes. Email is based on open standards.

Sam continues "How many visits did you make to your inbox today? When's the last time the connection failed? Email is critical infrastructure and 20% of confidential files in the cloud are stored as email attachments. We demand and receive greater stability from free email services than from e-commerce, news, or online banking, and we dont even realise it. "

But email freedom is under attack he concludes. "Email's benefits are taken for granted the world over and today they are under threat. The incalculable value email generates across all business verticals has made it an attractive target for subversion and control. Thousands of competing networks, created by self-serving businesses in an attempt to supplant email, have failed. Now, the worlds largest software companies are breaking independent email networks in an effort to dominate and control email inboxes themselves." Read the full article and appreciate your own email service as a force of good!

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