I first covered my friend Luis Suarez move away from email in 2008 – see Luis Suarez Frees Himself From E-Mail’s Grip and Much More. At the time Luis wrote in the article, Giving up on Work e-mail - Status Report on Weeks 15 to 20, “Instead of responding individually to messages that arrived in my in-box, I started to use more social networking tools, like instant messaging, blogs and wikis, among many others.” He added however, “I never gave up my work e-mail address, because I still need it for some work-related activities — for example, for one-on-one discussions that are too private and confidential to discuss publicly.”
This still holds as Luis recently talked with Kate Bassett about his take on life outside the inbox – see Thinking outside the inbox ‘improves team work’. Luis sates that he is not trying to get rid of email although but to reduce its power over our lives. Thus power can be oppressive. I saw a study that found half of respondents checking their email in bed, starting at around 7:09 AM and 68% check email before 8 AM. It also effects the evening as 38% at the dinner table. 69% can’t go to sleep without checking email and 40% do so after 10 PM.
The rise of social business can greatly reduce the use of email for things that are better address in the transparency of group collaboration. To facilitate the transition many of the vendors are integrating their tools with email. You can work within the email client and have content go directly into the social software for more efficiently distribution and comment. The reverse is also possible as content created with the social tool can be automatically sent out through email. See for example - Harmon.ie Provides Social Email to Push Enterprise Collaboration Adoption.
These are all good trends. However, let’s hope we use the efficiency of the social tools and do not become slaves to them as many have done with Facebook.