Email is dead: long live instant messaging


Date: 17 May 2012

Instant messageWhen I tell people that email won't be around in five years' time, they look at me like I'm mad. It's true though – email hasn't changed for 20 years, and we all know what happens to technology that doesn't change. It dies.

Email is as secret as Twitter

At a presentation I did recently, I told people email wasn't secure. To illustrate this point, I explained that information sent by email is as open as your Twitter stream, as long as you know where to look for it.

Some members of the audience looked at me in shock, admitting to sending all sorts of sensitive data via good old Microsoft Outlook.

I went on to explain that instant messaging is the future for corporate communications. I don't care if you don't believe me. It's true and now I'll explain why.

Twenty years ago people did business over the phone. When you needed something from someone, you picked the phone up or went to their desk, had a conversation and got what you needed.

Email changed all that. We became accustomed to sending a request for information, waiting for a reply, replying to the reply, waiting for another reply … and so on. A conversation that could have taken a few minutes turns into a four-hour email trail.

The only positive aspect is that email gives us an audit trail. I'm not sure about you but to me that feels like a backwards step. Of course, we didn't see it like that at the time.

Real-time communication is changing

Well, the world of real time communication is changing and instant messaging is the new black, if you'll excuse the cliché. Now when I want to discuss a subject I can go into my copy of Outlook and click ‘reply with IM':

This instantly opens a text, voice or even video conversation with recipient. You can discuss the subject and get an outcome - and best of all the entire chat is recorded in Outlook so you can check what you actually said. You can even share data directly from Microsoft Word or Excel using the share button in the review tab.

Of course, these functions aren't only available in Microsoft Outlook. There are plenty of other services that do similar things, including free ones like Skype. So, next time you're tempted to hit ‘reply all', why not try instant messaging instead?

Lee Wrall is founder and MD of Everything Tech, an IT support and service provider based in Manchester.

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