Thursday 1 August 2019 6:41 am

Email belongs in the trash, not your inbox

Morten Brøgger is chief executive of Wire.

Email has become a ubiquitous form of communication since it was invented in 1972.

Its ability to connect people and facilitate digital conversations has been an innovation like no other.

However, almost 50 years since its inception, electronic mail is no longer fit for purpose as the main communication tool in today’s enterprise. A combination of outdated security, as well as a lack of efficient workplace collaboration, has meant that this once great bastion of universal communication has finally had its day. 

Read more: Why you need to ditch the office email

Email has become cumbersome, outdated, and is inhibiting productivity. We’ve all cursed when trying to trawl back through lengthy email exchanges in an effort to find that one crucial piece of information which, without fail, is always buried somewhere obscure in a seemingly never-ending thread of messages. 

What’s more, according to research by FireEye, less than a third of contemporary email traffic is classed as “clean” and actually finds its way into an inbox.

Email – as effective as a telegram

Clearly, email is coming to the end of its life cycle. In security terms, it’s the equivalent of leaving the house with all the windows and doors left wide open. Thanks to research by Cofense, the cyber security vulnerabilities of email were laid bare when it was revealed that 91 per cent of cyber attacks began with a phishing email. 

Meanwhile, from a collaboration perspective, email is about as effective as a telegram – perhaps even worse. At least workers of days gone by didn’t receive in excess of 100 telegrams a day, with the expectation that they would need to reply to each and every one.

Considering email’s importance to contemporary workplace collaboration, it is concerning to weigh up the amount of time wasted when only one in three emails is actually clean of malware and other cyber threats. Conversely, just think of the collective productivity benefits if communication between employees could be efficiently tightened up.

As email’s faults become more recognised, collaboration platforms that include instant messaging, document sharing, project work and video calls are all growing increasingly popular. But if these platforms are to become truly ubiquitous, they must adhere to the very highest levels of security possible.

As it stands, however, because the area of “secure collaboration” is relatively new, enormous disparities in security exist between the kind of platforms on offer. 

Ditch email for good

Nevertheless, not only would ditching email for good save enterprises billions of dollars due to the decreased risk of cyber breaches, but a reduction in spam and unread messages will generate a significant boost in business productivity through more and better real-time collaboration.  

Currently, we’re at the tipping point of embracing a far safer, more practical and modern form of communication. Yet in order to offset that balance and move away from email, first we must accept that it is officially a relic of the past. 

Hopefully, in years to come, we will one day look back and laugh at the time when email was universally used in the workplace, while also questioning why we clung onto it for so long. 

Main photo credit: Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images

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