Email, the Godzilla of the Enterprise

GodzillaI attended the Greater Washington, DC ARMA Spring Seminar recently and was able to participate in a lot of discussions around governing email. Even after all these years, many organizations don’t have email under control.

As I was sharing details from this event on twitter, I received an interesting response from Gina Minks over at Dell.

@piewords I thought email was dead?

I laughed a little at this response. We have all heard many times about email’s demise over the years. I realized…

When you get down to it, email isn’t going anywhere.

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Godzilla 2014 Movie PosterDid you realize that another Godzilla moving is coming this summer? I didn’t until I was looking for pictures for this post. No matter how many times Godzilla is killed, buried, or sent into space, he always comes back and attacks our cities and kills other monsters.

There was even a period of time where Godzilla was considered a hero, defending Japan from invading forces.

Email has had a similar life. Enterprise 2.0 was supposed to kill email by moving all communication to different social platforms. I know because I kept seeing its death declared in social media.

Yet I kept receiving email from more and more people even when these platforms are in place.

More recently, it has been suggested that email is going to die because the youth of today don’t use email. Many refuse. As they enter the workforce, it is assumed that they will bring these new communication techniques to everyone.

When I was young, I only used email to replace phone conversations or written letters with people in other cities. One was expensive, the other slow.  All communications with my local friends was quick. How much work is it to plan to meet at Walt’s place at 8? When I got to the working world, I used email to convey complex thoughts and ideas that I wanted people to be able to refer to as needed.

Today, in the course of work, I use Skype, texts, online meeting platforms, and social tools. I still use email because sometimes it is the best tool on hand to convey complex thoughts and ideas with a diverse group, many of whom may not have access to the same systems.

If I was making a bet, I would say that those email hating youth will adopt it as they enter the workforce.

Bigger and Bigger

Godzilla's size over the yearsI just got back from the 2014 AIIM Conference in Orlando. While I was there, I heard John Montel from the U.S. Department of the Interior speak. During his presentation, he mentioned that they have 70 million emails each month.

70,000,000 email in a MONTH!

I wonder how many of those emails had attachments?

They have to categorize every email and make sure that each one is kept until it is no longer of value to the Department. Remember, not all emails are created equal and while storage is cheap, at 70 million emails a month, it isn’t that cheap.

As Godzilla has grown over the years, so has the volume of email. I do not see it decreasing in the near future. Business is growing more global and the need for us to stay in touch through digital means is only going to increase.

Social tools do reduce the volume of email, but their use requires a cultural shift in the organizations and networks are typically internal or external, rarely both.

Email crosses all lines and boundaries. Until we can find a better, and easier, way to work everywhere with everyone, email is not going anywhere.

We can only hope that email can be a productive tool and not a burden in the next several years because like Godzilla, email is here to stay.

3 thoughts on “Email, the Godzilla of the Enterprise

  1. Lawrence, email is practical as you can do it offline. The main issue of other forms of communication. One thing that might kill it though, is security. Unless a truly secure way to exchange email is standardized to the point that it always works, it may die a slow death from that. But the NSA isn’t interested in secure email.

    In terms of human communication it is kind of the worst means. Quick and easy enough to do a lot of damage withoutnthinking twice. Many people can be copied and then there is the illfated BCC. Great for company politics.

    But let me point out an error in judgment. Not archiving emails is the main problem, but first to identify Spam. Over 80% of emails coming to an inbox would be spam if not filtered. Too much still gets through. Secondly, it is targeting the email into the right work process and ensure that it is properly processed. That can also be done by capturing and classifying the email AND its attachement as we offer with then Papyrus Platform. So one would think that this is used by all businesses? Absolutely not. Emails is also the worst form of communications when considering handling.

    So all in all, it is truly surprising that Godzilla keeps growing and no one even tries to get it under control.


  2. Randy Moeller (@RJMrim) says:

    Yes the youth of today hate email. I’m not an email fan either. I mean, come on someone sends me an email from three cubes away? Walk over or at least IM me. Jeez. We make the new crop of young employees use it at work since the moment you turn on your PC on your first day, 100-200 emails show up. Welcome to doing it our way.

    Being a global company you have to use email to respond to folks 12 hrs away but the youth will have to move up the ladder to really put a dent in it. It may take another five to ten years for more collaboration by IM, etc. to really take hold.


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