E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

A World Without Email — Year 2, Week 52 (Email Is Dead… Long Live Email!)

Tenerife - Los Roques De García & Mount TeideAfter two years, I think that’s probably the first, and last time!, you will see me writing that particular sentence as part of the title of a blog post: "Email Is Dead […]" or its overall content, for that matter. I know there are some people out there who have been following for a while this initiative of living "A World Without Email" and all along it has looked like as if they would want me to see email go and die a painful death. Well, quite the opposite, I must admit. I have never said that email will die or cease to exist. On the contrary, I think it will be there for many many more moons to come. What I have been postulating all along though is a re-birth of email as a messaging / notification system vs. a content repository of various sorts. And here is the final report for Year 2 of having given up on corporate email.

As you may be able to see from the attached weekly progress report, it seems that things have been looking good as well for week #52 with just 19 emails received for that week, thus still right on target for that follow up challenge of 20 emails, or less, received per week that I set at the beginning of the second year:

A World Without Email - Year 2, Week 52 - Final Report

But I guess it’s now a good time to share a couple of thoughts in the shape of a final report on what that second year has been like up to this point and share across as well some statistics that I am sure most of you would find interesting and relevant.

The first year of "Thinking Outside the Inbox" I received a total number of 1,647 emails, which is an average of 32 emails per week, with a high peak of 60 emails received in a single week and with the lowest peak being at 3 emails for one week as well. That’s not too bad, considering I started this initiative with an average of 30 to 40 emails a day! Yes, a day!

Now, for this second year, the one on living "A World Without Email" things have gotten even better; I have received a total number of 1167 emails for the entire year, which means an average of 22 emails a week and a reduction of 480 emails overall (Nearly a 30% decrease year to year!). The maximum peak of emails per week was actually 47 and the minimum just one single email in a week!

I know I have mentioned before how I have set up for myself a follow up challenge for this second year to be on 20, or less, emails a week, but I guess 22 isn’t that bad. In fact, not bad at all! When was the last time you ever received 22 emails per week? Before starting this initiative I cannot even think how far back I was getting that kind of email traffic. Probably not even in the late 90s!

So I guess this proves, for the second year running, that there *is* life out there beyond the addiction to corporate email. That you can work at a large email driven corporation (Like pretty much most of them are out there!), as the one I work for, and still remain as productive as ever (If not more!) using social software tools to collaborate and share your knowledge across vs. other traditional ones like email.

I can imagine that plenty of people out there wouldn’t feel comfortable with what I have been doing all of these months in this space, since they aren’t probably too sure whether they would make it work for them or not, but then why not? Why don’t people try it out? Why don’t they dive in, shake that email addiction off and move into much more open, public and transparent interactions? Just for the sake of giving it a try. A single week. Just one week! Not more. Just ONE! What would you lose? Probably not much, right? But think what you would gain altogether…

I do realise that some of the sentences I just shared above may sound a bit too provocative, but then again if I see how most of the folks I collaborate and share knowledge across with have been immersing themselves in using social software tools behind the firewall (Lotus Connections Profiles micro-blogging/-sharing component, Activities, Communities and Files have been a bit hit over the last few weeks!) I would say there is no way back. Once you decide to step in, take the social tools for a spin, you won’t be back; or, at least, with the same kind of email volume as before and that can only be a good thing, don’t you think?

Anyway, why did I title this blog post with the final progress report as "Email Is Dead … Long Live Email!", specially after all I have written all along, and after all of the details I have shared over here over the course of the last few months? Well, like I have been saying all along, I don’t think that email will die a painful death; quite the opposite, it will probably re-purpose itself into becoming what it was originally designed for many decades ago: a messaging / notification system. Right now I still make use of it to process two different types of interactions:

  • Calendaring and Scheduling events: so that I can process my meetings, conference calls and whatever else from the agenda (Usually I spent about 15 to 20 minutes per week to go through them). You see? For this only purpose, unless someone shows me something different, I will *always* be using email for this context, but then again, is it really email itself or just calendaring and scheduling notifications? What do you think?
  • 1:1 Interactions of a Confidential or Sensitive Nature: Of course, I bet you wouldn’t want to discuss out in public things related to your salary payslip from last month, right? Or perhaps whatever other HR related sensitive issue(s); or if you are talking about confidential information that you wouldn’t want others to know. At least, not initially. You see? This is another scenario that still forces me to use email, although I must confess that in most cases I sort out such kind of interactions through a private Instant Messaging conversation or a phone call. Much faster.

Thus, as you can see, I still see good uses for corporate email. Pretty much like the folks over at Wrike who have put together this rather interesting, and thought-provoking, Slideshare presentation under the heading "Email Is Dead … Long Live Email". I would strongly advise you all to spend a few minutes going through the charts, so that you have an opportunity to find out plenty more why there’s still a good, and solid!, business case for some interactions happening through email.

For me though, it’d be the calendaring & scheduling of events, as well as those 1:1 sensitive / confidential interactions. I bet for you there may be some others. Wrike’s deck puts together things in context on what may potentially be a successful adoption of social software tools starting with … yes!, email! Pretty much along the lines of the latest Google initiative that just launched today: Google Buzz and which relies quite heavily on … yes!, GMail!

You see? Email is not dead! By far! It’s here to stay with us for a long long while! However, after two years, and going into my third consecutive year, I still prefer, and very much so!, to live "A World Without Email". And you? Can you let it go? Will you let it go?

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  1. Luis,
    It’s great to know you like the presentation. There still points that can be developed in it though. We’re planning to do it quite soon.

    1. Hi Daria! Many many thanks for dropping by and for the feedback! That’s great news! I will be looking forward to further details on the subject and see how things would go; I’ll be sharing some further insights as I’m on my way to my third year in a row without using corporate email; and still having a blast! So that should make for an interesting exchange of insights! Looking forward to them!

      Thanks again for dropping by and for the kind comments!

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