Professionals Prefer Typing To Talking

Hang up the phone and stop scheduling meetings — 80 percent of businesspeople prefer email communication, according to a survey by META Group, Inc.

“These findings reveal a major tipping point in the evolution of communications,” said Matt Cain, META Group senior vice president and an expert on email and collaboration strategies. “While we had suspected that email was becoming more popular than the phone, we were surprised by the magnitude of the ratio of those choosing email over the phone. Clearly, email best suits a changing business climate characterized by geographically distributed workgroups, extreme mobility, the need for rapid information dissemination, and a desire for reusable business records.”

Conducted online among 387 organizations, the survey also found that nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of respondents believe being without email would present more of a hardship than being without phone service.

Reasons For Preferring E-mail Over Phone for Business
Response flexibility 84%
Can communicate with multiple parties easily 83%
Paper trail is created 78%
Can communicate more quickly 40%
More productive 29%
Easier for global communications 25%
Proper context 24%
More targeted, less socializing 22%
Other 45%
Source: META Group, Inc.

Cain cites inbox overflow as a reason why some professionals still prefer phone calls to the written word. “Users are struggling to keep up with rising tide of message volume, with some users receiving over 200 messages per day and spending several hours daily managing their inbox. Clearly, something has to give,” said Cain.

Reasons For Preferring Phone Over E-mail for Business
More personal 81%
Easier to respond while traveling 76%
Proper contex 62%
Can communicate more quickly 48%
Tone of the message is clear 48%
Too much email already 29%
No paper trail 25%
More productive 20%
Other 63%
Source: META Group, Inc.

Despite the preference for typing over talking, the report revealed that more than half of all adults in the 35 largest U.S. markets have a cell phone. Additionally, META Group also found that the number of faxed pages has dropped 50 percent during the last five years, and over 90 percent of Global 2000 knowledge workers are expected to have instant messaging service by 2007.

E-mail overload could likely hinder written business communications, as findings from a joint LEGATO Systems and Osterman Research report indicate a proliferation of external and internal email.

According to the survey, 38 percent of the North American respondents said they saw their email volume increase by more than 50 percent since 2001; 30 percent saw email growth of 26 to 50 percent; 32 percent saw email volume increase by less than 25 percent. Interestingly, 52 percent of survey respondents indicated that their internal email volume increased by more than 50 percent since 2001.

E-mail research from LEGATO/Osterman also found that 79 percent of IT professionals use the communication app for mission-critical business operations such as recording approvals and transactions; 35 percent have lost emails due to a technical fault, virus or related problem; more than 50 percent of organizations have suffered monetary loss or business interruption due to email downtime; and 24 percent have been involved in disputes with customers or suppliers over email-based issues.

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