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Reports of the Death of Email Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Five years ago, I was invited to be part of a technology panel, and I amused the crowd by reporting to them how some fifteen years earlier I had predicted the demise of the Internet. And on this later panel – the one that took place five years ago – I boldly predicted, with a head-bobbing “you heard it here first” attitude, that within five years, we would have fewer emails.

Let me say to you now what I said to them then: I may have been a tad off. After I cleared my inbox this morning, I finally got some time to think about this. I will admit I was wrong again, but not as wrong as the first time, because on a percentage basis of total human interactions, email has probably gone down, having been squeezed out by texting, social media, and “collaboration” platforms such as SharePoint and Lync.

What I didn’t figure was the sheer magnitude of messaging that was about to happen, a big part of what we now know as “big data”. Email is still big because it is so “permanent”. It is to us now what a home phone number or snail-mail address used to be. Those are still there (to some folks) but our reliance on them has been reduced greatly. For me, where checking the mail and phone messages on the way in the house was an everyday occurrence, these activities are now weekly at best.

Will this also happen to email? Heck, I’m not hazarding a guess!