The Death of Email: Why Internal Mail is out and ESNs are taking over

8 minute read

First thing you do when you get to work and open your laptop is check your email, right? It is hard to imagine an office or organization without email. But some argue that the communication tool that has been around for over 40 years may be at the end of its days.

The Tech Trends 2018 report by the investment and consulting firm GP Bullhound shows that social media apps like Facebook, WhatsApp and other messenger apps are already overtaking email at the workplace. They declared 2018 the year of the death of email, but statistics on email usage disagree.


According to statistics published by Radicati Group over half of the world population uses email in 2019. The total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day will exceed 293 billion and is forecast to continue growing by around 5% yearly. But it is precisely this daily flood of information that will be the death of email.

Death by Email

Email is by no means the most efficient way of communicating. One of the reasons why people tend to avoid email, is that they seldom receive the emails they are waiting for. Even though spam filters are improving constantly, a whopping 45% of the emails we get are still spam. This flood of emails is not informative, but irrelevant.

Death by E-Mail

Email alone is not enough to provide a large number of employees with important and work-related information. This leads to employees daily receiving hundreds of emails that only partially concern them, they are numbed by the informational overdose and often miss those few messages that would have have actually been important and relevant.

Email wastes a lot of time and is a productivity killer. Managers spend up to 20 hours a week working through their emails and employees spend around 2-3 hours every day reading and responding to emails, digging through their inbox to get those few bits of information that they actually need. We are nearly addicted to checking our mail (several times) daily. And it is distracting. Employees need 64 seconds on average to concentrate on work again after reading an email. In a world where speed is becoming more and more essential, organizations are wasting valuable time.

Thierry Breton, CEO of Atos, claims:

"The deluge of information will be one of the most important problems a company will have to face [in the future]. It is time to think differently."

What about privacy?

Another reason companies are beginning to shy away from predominant email usage, is that email privacy is a complicated issue. For one, email was never developed with cyber security in mind. A message doesn’t simply go from sender to recipient instantaneously, most have to traverse multiple networks and servers before arriving in their intended inbox. On their way emails frequently cross national boundaries and different countries have different rules and regulations governing who can access an email. These checkpoints are vulnerable to attacks, due to unsecured networks.

Generally, email is also not encrypted so hackers who manage to break into a network or server can read all emails including attachments. Even if hackers can’t read the emails, they can easily go after the password, since most providers don’t require a two-factor authentication. Cybercriminals are far more efficient at exploiting email than they are at infiltrating messaging apps and SMS-based communications.

An Enterprise Social Network (ESN), like Speakap, features the latest security technologies to ensure safe and secure data storage. The data is stored in modern and carbon-neutral data centers that have strict access and storage policies to ensure that no one can access important company data.

Security & Privacy at Speakap

A new way of communicating

The Generation Z and millennials, that already make up the bulk of employees, avoid email in their personal lives. If you want to share information with many (young) people, it's natural to use platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. To contact someone quickly, a chat-message or SMS is the easiest way. Email just seems dusty, old, annoying and slow.

"The truth is, email doesn't really match their entire persona. It's too slow and dated, too cumbersome, to ornate. Why spell everything out in 500 words of well-crafted text when you can discuss over chat in 20 seconds?" - John Brandon

Communication on social networks is casual, more fun and encourages interaction. Even though hierarchies are flattened, there is still law and order through mirroring the organizational structure in departments and groups. Messages can easily be sent out “one-to-many” without endless CCs or can specifically target individuals in private messages. Pictures and videos create content that is easy to digest in a world overloaded with information.

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Especially in non-desk industries it is important to realize that not everybody has access to a desktop computer at work. Many of the non-desk employees don’t even own a private computer or laptop but rely entirely on their smartphone for all communication and retrieving information. Plus everyone is on their feet and moving around constantly. This makes it obvious that every organization needs a mobile friendly communication solution.

It won’t work without a cultural change

For many businesses the implementation of an internal social network involves a cultural change. The new era of communication needs engagement and initiative. Employees can’t just blindly let information rain down on them but have to interact with the platform and engage with the information. This has many many benefits, among them higher productivity, increased revenue, higher employee engagement, and employee satisfaction.

Email continues to be an essential part of daily business and the number of accounts are growing as an email address is required to sign up to any form of online activity. Many businesses today reserve email contact for external parties – like suppliers and clients  and email will continue to be a crucial tool for marketing, as it is a sure way to reach potential customers through newsletter. But for internal communication and conversations between colleagues it is all about quick-fire messaging, themed chat channels and private social media feeds which puts ESNs at the top of the list. 

Guide: Choosing an internal comms tool

Katy is shaping the new voice of Speakap. When she's not writing for work, she's writing for fun. When she's not writing, then she's probably out looking for the best taco in the city.

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