The rise and rise of email
Sending messages via electronic communication has a longer history than is commonly thought, pre-dating the internet and stretching back to the 1960s. However, it was with the advent of the world wide web during the 1990s that email as the business and social phenomenon that it is today really took off.
It is difficult to obtain accurate figures for the number of emails being sent at any one time but one source suggests the figure around the globe is as many as 294 billion per day!
Regardless of the precise figures it is true to say that email has revolutionised business communication in a way second only to the introduction of the telephone. It is indeed rapidly supplanting the phone as the method of communication of choice for many workers.
It is now a common occurrence for an office worker to have to process in excess of 100 emails each day. Some of these may contain valuable information or represent important steps in the conduct of a business process; whilst others may be of fleeting or no use at all – or worse nothing more than spam designed to extort money or spread viruses.
Email is now also integrated into other forms of business information – whether being used to transfer documents, co-ordinate diaries, or keep track of project milestones.
It is not hard to see why email use is so widespread. Its ease of use has helped form its own informal style which makes writing an email far quicker than composing a letter. The same message can be easily sent to as many people as you want at the same time and it will be received within minutes of sending it, compared with the days taken to receive post via ‘snail mail’. And best of all of course it is free (at least so far as the end user is concerned).
Whilst some of these advantages could also be claimed by the telephone, email has the added benefits to the sender of not requiring the recipient to be available at the time that he/she wants to communicate. The recipient can choose to respond at the time that suits them as well as providing a useful written source to refer back to at a later date.
It’s true that some new kids on the block are emerging which may over time challenge the dominance of email, especially the growing trend for ‘instant messaging’ solutions and voice over internet protocol (VOIP) services such as Skype, but it will be some time before they topple email from the number one spot. The rise of wireless technology and mobile devices mean it is now as easy for users to send and receive email whilst out of the office as it is when sat at their desk – further adding to the convenience and usability of email and hence contributing to the ever increasing numbers sent.
Ask yourself the question:
'Which would I most miss if denied it for a day: my email, my phone or my internal mail?'