Study Finds Email Easily Beats Out the Phone

A wide majority of businesspeople rely on email more than the telephone when it comes to business communications, according to a new study from Meta Group, Inc.

The report shows that 80 percent of the businesspeople surveyed say email is more valuable to them than the telephone. Meta Group, an industry analyst firm based in Stamford, Conn., also reports that 74 percent of those surveyed say being without email would present more of a hardship than being without phone service.

’’These findings reveal a major tipping point in the evolution of communications,’’ says Matt Cain, a senior vice president at Meta Group. ’’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.’’

Survey respondents noted that email eases communication with multiple parties; enables more rapid communication, and generates a written record of the interaction.

But email has its own problems.

Survey respondents who chose the telephone over email noted that talking on the phone is more personal and helps to clarify the tone of the message.

And Meta Group’s Cain says email still presents many challenges not faced by telephone communications.

’’Users are struggling to keep up with the rising tide of message volume, with some users receiving over 200 messages a day and spending several hours daily managing their inbox,’’ says Cain. ’’Clearly, something has to give.’’

Cain says vendors need to develop tools to help streamline inbox management. He also says that users need to be more adept at handling the large amounts of messages flooding their inboxes.

Email also struggles with a deluge of spam, which is more and more frequently pornographic in nature. It also faces destructive viruses and worms, mail bombs and denial-of-service attacks.

Because of these problems, Meta Group analysts are predicting that creating safe and stable email systems will be imperative for IT organizations in the next 10 years.

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