We Can Only Make an Old Car Ride So Much Faster

By Vinicius da Costa posted 03-21-2011 16:07


It’s not that I don’t like e-mail.  I do believe it’ll still have its place, together with the typewriter, vinyl record and the Walkman.  Ok, that may sound a little too extreme for some.  Maybe a more realistic assessment is to compare the future of e-mail with our home address or our telephone land line.  Directions we give to people we most likely don’t want to really talk to.  For those with nostalgic feelings, just place it by the gramophone.

Every time I talk about the end of e-mail there is a great commotion.  But now that I have The New York Times on my side with facts — see chart below — it’s going to become a little easier.

One thing is absolutely certain.  E-mail will not be the primary way of communicating and collaborating in the very near future as you can see in the chart posted by The New York Times in December 2010.

But this traditional way of communicating definitely has a heroic history and must be respected:

  • 200 BC to 100 BC - Human messengers on foot or horseback common in Egypt and China with messenger relay stations built.  Sometimes fire messages used from relay station to station instead of humans.
  • 14 DC - Romans establish postal services.
  • 1714 - Englishmen, Henry Mill receives the first patent for a typewriter.
  • 1971 - Computer engineer, Ray Tomlinson invented internet based email.
  • 1980 - Sony Walkman invented (nothing to do with email but yet an interesting fact).


It’s been 2,200 years this type of communication is around.  With the exponential development of technology for communication and collaboration started by the internet, and the globalization becoming the norm of business relations, it’s understandable that this electronic version of a 2,000 years-old concept is not enough to keep up with the world transformation.  The old wheels of e-mail are falling apart trying to match the pace of modern society.

Let alone the fact that poor usage practices made it one of the greatest productivity drags of our times.  According to several studies, an individual will:

  • Produce an average of 25,200 e-mails per year
  • Spend as much as 16.1 hours a week working through e-mail
  • Or approximately 96 business days a year

While a good portion of this is real work, the numbers show the great opportunity there is.  However, changing technology will not change these inneficient practices completely.  It’s mostly about people!

For more visit Got Social? It's About Business

On March 24th 2pm US ET, I’ll be talking more about these opportunities during a free Webinar titled Social Business – It is not just about technology!  Click here to register and join me in this conversation.

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