I am a parent, futurist, and technologist. My career has spanned the birth of personal computers to the rise of cloud computing.
What comes after email?
I realize I often start my writing with the phrase one of the things. I am going to use it again today. One of the things that interest me is email. I started my IT career as an email administrator. It's an interesting role in the IT world. Your function is to enable electronic communication within the organization where you work. Now I started in the days before the massive Internet email blitz. I set up my company's first Internet email exchange and provided Internet addresses for all the employees. One of the reasons that Internet address became important was that my grandfather moved to a retirement village and began teaching the residents new computers. And so, my grandfather would email me during the day. He would email my mother, but sometimes it took her a day and sometimes two days, whereas I usually responded in half an hour because I was always checking my email. It was my job, after all. But one of the reasons for this article is the evolution of email. It was also in the days before SPAM.
When I started, we would get 20 or 30 spam messages for the entire company in a month. In those days, the SPAM was mostly suppliers trying to reach new salespeople. It was not the spam that most of us get today. I know of companies today that get as many as 50 to 100 million spam messages a day. Part of it is that spam filters of gotten better. And you only see 10 to 15 spam messages in your inbox a day. But the reality is you probably get 100 to 200 in your junk mailbox over a week. The world is much faster at communication now than it used to. Part of that is the evolution of email.
I can't remember when I last talked to somebody in my field that didn't have at least one email address. Most people have one that is personal and professional. When I first was running the email system for my company, I would average 80 emails a day. The majority of people in the company didn't average 80 emails a day. They averaged 15 or less. Eighty emails a day in the mid-1990s was considered a very heavy email user. Eighty emails a day now put you in the moderate email user group. Across the four email boxes I check, I average 350 emails every day. The vast majority of them are advertising that I sort by rules. The real evolution now, for email, is speed.
Eventually the live or web meeting will replace email.
I have a good friend who lives in Kenya. Kenya is across an ocean of most continents from where I live? But he and I can communicate nearly instantaneously via email. Time is the only thing that limits our ability to interact. By the time, I mean, he starts his day six hours before I start mine. End of the day, my time is well into the night in Kenya. However, the email physically takes around 20-30 seconds to make the journey. Now you know you all agree with me that that speed allows spammers to send a lot more emails a lot more quickly, so there's a downside to that speed increase. But the other reality is that email still could easily have your email on your phone, your tablet, your laptop, and of course, whatever computer you have at home. Allows you to communicate in a very quick and other than the cost of your Internet connection pretty much free manner. There are several free email services one can use, and as I said, other than the cost of getting to the Internet, the email is free. As a technologist, I often encounter people who work in my field who don't have an email address. But now, I can honestly say I don't often encounter many people who don't have an email address regardless of their profession.
You can have email on your phone, tablet, or any other device that connects to the Internet and has an email interface. There are even some email programs on smart TVs. You can even send and receive emails on the gaming console. Now I don't think that email is at the level of texting. Just based on the number of SMS messages I know some people in my family get the day, there are probably 2 to 3 times as many SMS messages floating around as emails are floating around. And yes, there are spam SMS messages now as well. But SMS is an email for the cell phone. So we can lump the two together.
Bob looks beyond today, and she potentially what could replace email as part of this evolution. As I said, I'd lumped email and SIMS into one communications platform. So what lies beyond email? Part of that evolution, I think, has already happened, the arrival of and use of web meetings. Why will web or live meetings replace email? First off, many meeting platforms now include translation and transcription services. Eventually, you'll be able to host a web meeting with friends in Japan and friends who live in Thailand. There is an hour difference in terms of time zones between Thailand and Japan. Then another 12 hours or so between the US and Japan and Thailand. I used to have meetings with people in Malaysia. Every night at 7 pm and many mornings at 7 am to maximize all our times due to the time differences. But we also spoke English only then. Now, people can speak in their native language, and the translation system will convert that to the other native languages on the call. You speak in Japanese, and I hear it in English. Transcription services mean I don't have to take notes; the system is creating them for me!
I suspect people will use email to send the conference call transcript in the short term. Much like people have sent notes and emails after calling since the dawn of time. Or least the dawn of email. Meetings existed long before email. Meetings will exist long after email. I think meetings probably will exist as long as there are humans. But the reality is email will begin to decline in use simply because you can do a web conference quicker. I'll end simply with this, that the rise of 5G will make meetings available to you anywhere. The transcription and translation services will mean you no longer have to figure out if I need a translator on the call. Or if I need to ask somebody to take notes on the call. Everybody can focus on thinking and sharing the ideas that they have. It'll make brainstorming in a virtual meeting so much better than when one person is lost on the call because they have to take notes. So I suspect I'm going to say is an evolution of email is the web conference. I wonder what lies beyond the web conference?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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