Is email good for business?
Davey Winder looks at whether email overload causing costly interruptions to business workflow, and is there a real world alternative?
The top down model of corporate communication is changing, and changing fast. While email remains king, for now, the memo and mailing list mantra is being replaced with a non-hierarchical and far less formal one of debate and feedback. Blogs, Wikis and perhaps most of all Instant Messaging are all threatening the email grip.
A recent survey of 1468 business professionals by ntl:Telewest Business revealed that 78 per cent of people couldn't live without email in the workplace. Hardly surprising when you consider that it also found 40 per cent using it for gossip, 54 per cent for socialising and 60 per cent dealing with issues surrounding relationships with colleagues. If this wasn't enough workflow interruption, the business etiquette of email adds fuel to the fire: 77 per cent said it was rude not to receive a response within 24 hours, 44 per cent giving it just a morning.
A rationale for rationing?
Back in the day, it was the height of workplace rudeness to interrupt that workflow by thumping on the desk and demanding attention. Yet that's exactly what is happening in enterprises up and down the nation, thanks to the 'miracle' of email.
The constant interruption from email and increasingly Instant Messaging at work is threatening to undermine business processes and could be costing you dearly (literally) unless you do something about. Of course, all this is in my never humble opinion, so I thought I'd ask others 'in the business' what they thought.
Getting the message
As Parapakis says "until a business is able to integrate these new communications technologies effectively, they should be wary of the risks they introduce by using them for business critical applications."
While John Stanners, MD of email messaging software company Gordano told me that while their customers are able to IM sales staff directly from the web page "this almost invariably leads to an immediate telephone conversation." Which may not be a bad thing, what's wrong with talking anyway?
As Ipswitch Director of Product Management, Kevin Gillis, was quick to point out "calling often means you end up talking to voicemail as increasingly fewer people pick-up at work." Pre-emptive IM increases the chance of hitting the person you want, first time, without the voicemail barrier.