50 years after its birth and 20 years after its entry into mainstream use, email is dead. Or that’s what major news outlets like The New York Times have been reporting. Its death was spurred on by the numerous high profile breaches that have occurred in the last few years—most prominently those that affected both sides of the political spectrum. But what caused the death? And is this premise true? It’s human curiosity to ask. Below: a postmortem report on the factors that led to email’s demise.
Email has become outdated and insecure
NYTimes tech columnist Farhad Manjoo notes that email is a “fundamentally insecure communication channel” that was never meant for the kind of sensitive conversations that are so common in business and politics today. Email is typically not encrypted, goes through intermediate computers before reaching their destination, and many Internet Server Providers (ISP) store copies of emails on their mail servers before the messages are delivered – the backups of which sometimes remain on the server for up to several months. Imagine a scenario in which mail (by post–snail mail–if you will) passed from unlocked mailbox to unlocked mailbox, before it reached the intended recipient. Imagine how easy it would be for someone with bad intentions to simply pick up the mail while it’s on its way, or even after it reached its intended mailbox. Email is a hacker’s gold mine as seen in many cases this year alone.
And for those of you who immediately say – well we use secure email. Even that is only as secure as the trust in the recipients you send the email to. Your control is lost the moment you hit send no matter whether you use secure email or not thanks to something as simple as cut and paste.
Email has become inconvenient
How many times have you had to scroll endlessly through an email thread—or even multiple email threads– to find the information you were looking for? How often do you have to send follow up emails to get someone to respond to your message? (55% of people admit to not opening or reading their emails regularly—business and personal.) Email is inconvenient. It’s clunky, unwieldy, and inefficient. It’s no surprise that people are rapidly turning to tools that are easier to manage—like SMS texting—for communications (One survey found that over 80% of people use texting for business). In our world of on the go professionals, most have turned to text and messaging apps while email is now used for only specific types of communication – simply due to efficiency and convenience.
Email is too slow
Today’s business and competitive landscape, and cultural landscape for that matter, has changed significantly. Technology advancements in speed and delivery have made us very impatient as we expect immediate results. Our communications are not different. Email unfortunately does not deliver the rapid, asynchronous communication and responses that are desired. While still utilized for some avenues of business, the speed of business requires the immediacy of new channels such as text and messaging apps to satisfy new requirements to make decisions better and most importantly faster.
So, email may not be completely finished but it is definitely the new snail mail. In many minds – it is already dead. People are already turning to SMS text and other messaging tools to solve their needs for faster communication. The key for businesses is to adopt these tools in a secure manner and ensure that they meet policies for confidentiality and compliance. Platforms like Vaporstream’s Secure Messaging solution, are natural successors to email as they harness messaging habits to increase efficiency and knowledge sharing while protecting the organization’s data.
Contributor: The Vaporstream Team