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The IT Pro Podcast: Why is email still a thing?

Despite a proliferation of newer collaboration platforms, email stubbornly refuses to go away

The IT Pro Podcast: Why is email still a thing?

It seems that in the world of modern IT, you can’t swing a cat-6 cable without hitting four or five cloud-based platforms that are trying to revolutionise business communication. Despite the rise of platforms like Slack, Teams, Zoom and more, however, emails remain by far the most widely-used method of professional communication.

In this week’s episode, we take a look at why this comparatively ancient technology still persists so widely, as well as the advantages that it offers over newer platforms, and what inspiration they can take from it. 

Highlights

“What it comes down to for me is - and I've been thinking about this, because I hate email, and I want it to die - but I think it serves a very important purpose in the sense that it's a medium where a lot of people who are going to try to communicate with me only live there; they're not bleeding into places like WhatsApp or whatever platform you might choose to speak to your contacts and so on. It's a very useful way of keeping people at arm's length, to some extent.”

“I think the key difference between email and these newer collaboration platforms for me, is that email was developed back in the 70s and 80s. And it was developed by researchers and academics as an open standard, that people then built proprietary clients on top of. It wasn't built as a walled garden enclosure where you had to be on one specific platform in order to use it. And I think that's why it's persisted so much; that openness means that it doesn't matter what email client you're using. If email was developed today, if I was on Gmail, I probably wouldn't be able to email someone that was using Outlook.”

“I would really like to receive any PR message or business offer by sitting on my front porch with some iced tea and someone rolling up on a horse and handing me a handwritten letter pitching whatever interview they want. This is how I imagine it would be in a perfect world.”

Read the full transcript here.

Footnotes

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