"Email is the answer to every business need." If you believe that, you have not been paying attention. In tech circles, email is hemorrhaging as a go-to platform for business because it is causing so much overload. I recently heard about one entrepreneur who receives around 5,000 messages a week. Must be nice to be so popular! Yet, how could anyone possibly parse that much information? It's not feasible. It's also the reason Slack and so many similar tools now exist, to the point where some companies rely exclusively on alternative messaging options. It's also why I've been predicting for a while that email as we know it won't exist by 2020.
What will replace it? I've already seen a few signs that there will be some hybrid email client that handles social media messaging, texting, group chat, customer service, and all internal communication. We might not call it email, but we will be able to communicate more effectively. If you don't believe me that email is on the deadpool, consider a few highly illuminating and apocalyptic signs.
1. Uber will not answer your support emails.
A rep from the company Helpshift told me a really interesting trend. If you use Uber, you may have noticed the company removed all traces of tech support email. You can't reach them that way anymore. Why is that? Helpshift does "in app" support, which means it is more like a virtual guide to find the answer. Eventually, you can create a support ticket, but it doesn't just drop a message to an inbox because that's terribly inefficient these days. The entire process is enlightening. The reason it works is because there is some added intelligence to the communication, better tracking, and a smarter use of technology; email is getting too old and outdated.
2. Chinese users don't even have email accounts.
It's also worth noting there are entire countries that don't use email, namely India and China. Some do, of course, but the norm is to rely on apps like WeChat for more direct communication from a mobile device. Way back in 2010, Sheryl Sandberg also predicted the demise of email (which puts me in good company, right?) because teens don't even bother getting an account. At the time, she mentioned how we should look closely at what teens are doing because it will predict what the rest of us do. That's definitely the case with Facebook and Tumblr. In my experience, teens don't bother with email because they don't have time for it anymore. It's lame.
3. Customer service is starting to rely on chatbots.
One of the biggest trends in messaging has to do with chatbots. I've been all over this one lately, mostly because it is one of the best uses of A.I. If you can chat with a robot about ordering flowers or arranging a meeting, it saves time and leads to a better result. Robots who run the chat lines never get tired or cranky, always look closely at your inquiry, and don't have to sift through a mountain of 5,000 emails just to respond to your question. Now flip that paradigm on its head. If it works to have customer service chatbots, why do we need to keep sifting through our inboxes all day? We spend hours doing that without realizing there could be a much better way to communicate with the help of A.I. routines, more focused discussions, online chat, and other systems designed to help us communicate more and sift less. You with me?