Email is Dead! Long Live Email!

As I check my personal email, I realize it has died. Yet, I still grab my phone and check my work email constantly. There is definitely a disparity today that wasn’t so apparent all those years ago. While business email has thrived with Microsoft Exchange and now Office 365, personal email has become a wasteland.

I started my personal email journey with a Penn State student account, then an account, moved into Hotmail, then GMail, my own domain (still in use) and back to Hotmail (now again. As I look through my old personal emails from over the years, I realize it has been dead for most of the time.

Stage 1: The Demise of Personal Interation
Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I received quite a bit of personal email on Hotmail while my family and friends used other various email systems to keep in touch. I received emails to engage in personal conversation, but eventually, with the dawn of increasingly rich content on the Internet, personal email became funny or relevant links and pictures.

I still used my personal email, but adjusted my interaction. I, along with others, started to attempt to one-up others. Forget about actually engaging with someone! There was now a race to send something funny or relevant to your circle before someone else discovered it. The payback was the replies of innocuous approval.

Personal email had become nothing more than a modern Facebook or Twitter – friends and relatives sending information or links with little original thought. This shift in discourse was about to open us all up to a BIG problem…

Stage 2: The Rise of Spam
As personal email became the social network of its day, scammers moved in. After all, it was easy to slip in advertisements and scams amid all the other content being thrown around.

Corporate email systems meanwhile were still being used mostly productively. I’ll admit there was a brief growing pain here while people still figured out how to use a personal email account and a business one. Spam helped us all figure that out though.

Spam forced companies to start managing email at a different level. Looking  back, it seems so obvious now, but back when email started no one really saw the risk. In our corporate lives, spam checking solutions were implemented and email was refocused to the business, meanwhile our personal accounts became hotbeds for phishing scams, spam and other seedy activities.

But then, something even more ridiculous happened.

Stage 3: Google Kills It and We Embrace the Spam
At this stage, Google changed the landscape of personal emails in two ways. First, they offered larger mailboxes and second, they started in initiating spam scanners.

Here, we built up on personal mailboxes as throw away. With ever growing space and search calling up emails, we just kept everything. There was really no need to reply because nothing insightful was ever sent. Personal email became the basement of the internet. Just store what you don’t really need down here and come get it whenever you want.

Any communication left here was destined to die under the guise of archiving. In this new system, recipients felt safe in ignoring any sort of interaction.

While this happened, legitimate corporations realized that email was the perfect form of communication to reach real consumers. IT systems were upgraded and suddenly we could shop and pay bills online. This vastly changed the landscape of our personal email.

Our personal Inboxes were suddenly filled with legitimate spam and here is where it dies.

Stage 4: The Death
Certainly, its application, if ever used anymore, is not personal discourse or keeping in touch, but consumerism. We have entered a functional stage, where it is providing a service where we shop, consume and pay bills.

Sure, we might send an update out there once in a while, but likely it is through a social network of some kind. Personal email is surely dead. I suggest you play taps for such a short lived way to track your friends and family.

Email Isn’t Dead!
In the business world though, the demise hasn’t happened. Of course, other systems have arisen, just like in the personal space, but business email remains an integral part of work, despite efforts to kill it off over the years. There are a lot of great reasons why work email hasn’t died yet, but there’s one that stands out.

Regardless of your company’s email platform, you can still communicate over a standard protocol (SMTP) with all of your external partners. Nothing special is needed. Every business can use any email platform today and be sure that they can still compete and communicate in the global environment.

Trying to kill corporate email is like saying that there is one new web platform that is not based on HTTP.

Will email ever die? Well, likely something new will come up, but it won’t be born out of something created by a corporate entity. It will have to be something for everyone, like the simplicity and ubiquity of SMTP – Send and Receive.

About Matthew Sekol:
Matthew Sekol is a Microsoft Solutions Sales Lead with a degree from Penn State in English. With a mix of creativity and a passion for computers, he has a unique perspective on life, business and technology.

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