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Ken Magill

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Oops! There Goes Email Dying Again

4/21/15
 
By Ken Magill
 
Two articles by the same author recently predicted the death of traditional email, one on Inc.com and one on ComputerWorld.com.
 
Yes, we’ve been down this road repeatedly, but this time let’s look at it a little differently.
 
“I'm predicting that a new communication channel will replace email by 2020,” wrote John Brandon on Inc.com.
 
“RIP, traditional email. It was great knowing you. We’ve tried to get along, but you are a pesky, annoying nuisance. Don’t hit the SMTP server on your way out, OK?” wrote Brandon on ComputerWorld.com.
 
“That’s right: In 2015, email is taking a backseat compared to a few alternative ways to communicate more effectively -- those emerging collaborative environments like Slack and Circuit along with apps like Knowmail and Mailbox that do a better job of weeding out the fluff.”
 
Rather than point out how ubiquitous email is and that it doesn’t matter that young people don’t use it—sooner or later, they’ll be in the workforce using it—let’s entertain the thought that he’s right. Email is doomed.
 
What then?
 
Well, I think we can all agree the Internet isn’t going anywhere. If the Internet does go away, my guess it’ll be part of a situation in which I’m tapping into my stash of hoarded ammunition to feed the family. Yes, I’m a bit of a prepper.
 
So barring worldwide catastrophe in which the grid fries, the Internet stays.
 
If the Internet stays, ecommerce stays.
 
If ecommerce stays, companies and individuals are going to want to communicate with each other electronically.
 
Email is already a majority commercial communications channel. A Microsoft executive confirmed that to me several years back.
 
As long as the Internet exists, people will make commercial transactions using it. As long as people make commercial transactions online, the companies they buy from will want a way to communicate with them electronically.
 
Individuals will want to be communicated with electronically.
 
What’s going to replace it? Letters? Phone calls?
 
No matter what happens, ecommerce companies will communicate with customers electronically through something addressable on an individual level. It may not be email as we currently understand it, but so what?
 
I suspect most people who predict the death of email dismiss the importance of commercial electronic communications. 
 
All commercial email touting products and services is spam to them and, as a result, they think it should rightfully go away.
 
But what about all the transactional email that passes between companies and individuals? If email goes away, how will ecommerce companies let individuals know their order has shipped, or is on back order, or that their credit card has been denied?
 
They will do so using some electronic, individually addressable means. So even if email goes away, electronic mail stays.
 
And if electronic mail goes, the wife and I have a garage filled with canned goods, a running stream by our house, multiple long guns and lots of ammunition.
 
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