There’s no doubt about it, instant messaging is on the rise. According to a report by Radicati Group, instant messaging accounts will reach 2.7 billion this year and peak at 4.3 billion by 2016. That same report suggests that email accounts will reach the same 4.3 for 2016, suggesting that instant messaging will be just as popular as email by 2016.
That got us thinking. Will instant messaging and email become rivals in business usage? If so, and you had to choose between email and instant messaging, which would you choose? Most people would naturally say email, but that might not be the obvious answer for long.
Email Attachments Gave it an Edge
There are a number of reasons that email beats instant messaging in a business environment at the moment. The most common of these is attachments. Instant messaging is a stripped down version of email with little or no anti-virus or security for attachments. So when you have a document to send, the natural choice is email.
However, with shared document servers and services such as Dropbox, most businesses have other ways to share files. You don’t really need to send a whole document; you can just send a link. It’s also more efficient for email archiving purposes, because you’re linking to a single document and not clogging up your archive.
Instant Messages can be Archived Too
Archiving is another reason people favor email. Email is automatically stored within your mailbox, and with email archiving you can access old emails in seconds. With instant messaging, there is no automatic mailbox. Messages are instant and disposable. But instant messaging archiving is also available and is growing in popularity.
That ability to archive instant messages could eventually give them the edge over email. Instant messages are a much more flexible and efficient form of communication. Now that you can archive the messages and use them to share documents, email is left with few advantages.
So the question is, which would you choose?