In 2000 it was not unusual for companies to say: “We no longer use faxes to conduct our business.” Business without faxes? At one time that sounded inconceivable.
Today, the refrain of “Please don’t send us faxes, emails or leave voice messages” has become the norm in business.
On reflection, there have been three forces driving this.
First there are the social pressures among the younger generation of consumers. “We don’t use email, we prefer ‘light weight’ stuff like texts and instant messaging to stay in touch,” said one young graduate. As time spent on social media sites continues to grow exponentially, this trend will only accelerate.
This brings us to the second driver, the technology platforms. When Facebook launched its messaging service, more than half a billion people instantly found a different, and sometimes easier, way to connect – and send fewer emails. That was the step-change at a personal and social level.
Then these personal social preferences started to drive businesses, almost forcing them to embrace Facebook – to go where their customers and business partners are. The early reluctance to open up business to Facebook has gone and is seen as an ‘old gen’ idiosyncrasy.
Amazon, Wal-Mart, banks and other financial services providers have all launched what has come to be called ‘Extended Social Network’ (or ExSN) manifestations of their businesses based on Facebook. The trickle has turned into a flood – and email services have fallen into sudden disuse. It’s what economists call “a dead cat bounce” – email is likely never to recover.
The third driver has been eBusiness, literally turning businesses inside out so that customers can do ‘everything’ for themselves, rather than going via internal support structures, call centers and the like. Customer satisfaction boomed.
So, email is gone. The point is – who cares?