Will Web 2.0 Overtake E-Mail?
Is e-mail going by the wayside?
Rob Preston at InformationWeek says no. And he makes a good argument.
Preston was responding to a WSJ article analyzing why e-mail's reign has ended. The story, by Jessica E. Vascellaro, pointed to the rise of social media tools that increase speed and collaboration. Preston counters that while tools like Twitter, Facebook and others offer gains over traditional e-mail, they're still impersonal and limited in functionality.
Harvard professor Andy McAfee has been talking about Web 2.0 tools for a few years, since he coined the phrase "Enterprise 2.0" in a Sloan Management Review article (subscription required to read full article).
He spoke with me last week--ahead of the release of his long-awaited book, Enterprise 2.0--and brought up another reason why e-mail is lacking.
McAfee told me about a conversation he had with a CIO from an investment bank. The CIO said Web 2.0 technologies were, in fact, a great defense.
"He said all these Web 2.0 technologies were his best defense, because all the contributions to them are very widely visible, essentially public, and attributed back to the people that made them. That means that the instant there's any flavor of infraction, the community will help him figure out what happened, how bad it is, who did it, and then he can show any regulator or authority when the problem occurred, when his company became aware of it, what action it took and how quickly it was removed."
As McAfee notes, businesses typically don't get in trouble for isolated incidents, but instead for extended periods or patterns of misbehavior. And e-mail, he says, can be a catalyst for that misbehavior.
"These technologies and platforms are great for making sure incidents don't turn into patterns, whereas e-mail--which is a fantastic technology because it happens via private channels--is a great technology for allowing abuses to continue and flourish for a long time."
We'll have more from McAfee in the November issue of CIO Insight, and I'll post more here before then.
In the meantime, two things. First, can you see a time where Web 2.0/collaborative tools will actually replace e-mail at your company? What will it take for that to happen?
And check out this package from award-winning writer Deb Gage on why traditional software might be on the way out. In it, Sunoco CIO Peter Whatnell explains his thinking in evaluating a move to Web-based e-mail at his company.