It's been called "outdated" and "inefficient" by companies of all sizes. It ruins holidays, keeps us too busy, stresses us out-- some folk even consider it the bane of existence. But try as we might, we just can't seem to get rid of it. Our last Enterprise 2.0 roll-up of the year is dedicated to a method of communication we just can't shake: e-mail. Tenacious E, if you will. 

Phil Green on Email's Fate in an Enterprise 2.0 World

"Just as video did not kill the radio star, social media will not kill e-mail," wrote Phil Green, CTO at Inmagic. "New York Times Writer David Pogue summed up the idea of technology obsolescence perfectly when he wrote, 'TV was supposed to kill radio. The DVD was supposed to kill the Cineplex. Instant coffee was supposed to replace fresh-brewed. But here’s the thing: it never happens…Things don’t replace things; they just add on.'"

In this piece, Green discusses the threat social media supposedly poses to traditional communication methods. Google Wave is, of course, a primary example of why we're just not ready for the level of collaboration we think we are. 

Will we ever be? Maybe. Or, perhaps we're just looking at this the wrong way. 

Green points out that e-mail’s strength lies in connecting, not collaborating. "People will connect when there is context, because they have a shared reference point, a reason to connect. At some point, bringing that connection (or connections) into a collaborative environment is necessary to address problem solving because the socially connected people have a basis for their discussion."

Read on here

2011 Predictions: 'Email Forever’ or ‘Rip and Replace?’

David Lavenda, the co-founder of an identity management company called Business Layers, offers additional reasons that solidify the argument for e-mail against social solutions:

  • A lot of time is spent there — A recent uSamp survey showed that 25% of business people spend half their day in email, and over 75% spend at least two hours every day in email.
  • Important social connections are already maintained in email — The Outlook/Notes contact list is the de facto directory for most business people.
  • It’s packed with important information — Business-critical documents and text messages reside in the Inbox.
  • Next-generation Enterprise 2.0 tools are disruptive and require a change in business user behavior. Perceived marginal utility is low and switching costs/adoption are high

Nevertheless, the desire to bring the functionality of popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter to the corporate user is strong. Read on for adapting to both and neither at the same time. 

Prediction: You'll Still Hate It

In addition to cheating on IT, Nathan Rawlins, Sr. Director of Product Marketing for Jive Software, predicts that the future holds much hate for e-mail-- unless you're a teenager. "But that’s because they ignore that it even exists," he says. "Yet these masters-of-constant-conversation have somehow discovered a way to communicate that actually works."

What Rawlins is referring to, of course, is Facebook. Many younger generations choose to communicate this way rather than send e-mail. It's sort of like how when you and I send each other e-mail while grandma still insists on sending an actual letter with a real live stamp and everything.

As Rawlins puts it: "If a thirteen year old can figure this out, why is business still using the digital pony express?"

The point: We're not going to see the end of e-mail in 2011, but we're probably going to see a big dent in its user base.