Mobile in the Enterprise

Has email reached the tipping point to oblivion?

October 30, 2012

  • Alex Bratton

I’ve noticed really interesting changes in the way I use technology to communicate with people in the past 6 months. Previously non face-to-face communication was heavily email, followed by phone calls. While the phone is still important, my communications have really shifted to channels other than email.  LinkedIn, text messages and Skype are now driving most of my communications.

One of the keys to that shift has been usable mobile apps to put those communications in my pocket. Yes, I can use email while mobile, but the array of folders that email now automatically filters into is just cumbersome on a mobile platform (that works great on a desktop for those few times I’m there). If you are a heavy email user I highly recommend SaneBox for adding sanity to the inbox and AwayFind to alert you to important emails you’re expecting and free yourself from inbox hovering. I founded an email anti-spam company in a past life and know how hard email management can be. [pullquote style=”left”]”Email was never great for important real time concerns as we’re (hopefully) not always staring at our inboxes.” [/pullquote]

Email was never great for important real time concerns as we’re (hopefully) not always staring at our inboxes. LinkedIn messages are a great channel for less urgent but important conversations and hasn’t been polluted with the flood of garbage our email inboxes contain. These messages are much more likely about important relationships and opportunities than project team updates. Of course this makes the big assumption that you’ve only connected with people you trust and want to have that interaction with. The only drawback has been the relatively slow LinkedIn app. (Are you listening LinkedIn? Yes, users really do want a native app that’s much more responsive — please refer to Facebook’s recent change).

Another channel I’m now using heavily is text messaging. Specifically, iMessage on the iOS platform has been extremely useful for quickly directing business activities. With the addition of iMessage on the Mac desktop and the ability to keep my messages in sync between iPhone, iPad and multiple computers, it’s a snap to have quick important dialogs.

I’ve also seen a couple interesting use cases for Skype in the past year. The obvious case has been the video connection for one-on-one or group meetings and has served us very well. One less obvious use has been Skype text messaging to have more asynchronous conversations (meaning both parties don’t have to be online at the same time). Skype queues up the messages when users are offline and then delivers when you next connect. This allows for back and forth conversations regardless of timing.  This method is now my son’s preferred way to connect with all of his friends (send an email and it might be read in a week, but Skype is within a few hours).

Another great Skype use has been the quick creation of adhoc workgroups. When an issue or opportunity arises, my team will pull the appropriate people into a group text chat to handle it. If things require more immediate conversation, a single button push brings everyone up on a live video connection.

I’m hoping these changes are indications that the email prison is finally starting to go away, and we can get back to communicating more effectively.