Is Email Increasing or Decreasing?

By • Nov 20th, 2009 • Category: Blog

Our newly released “Business User Survey, 2009” shows that for the first time since we started monitoring email traffic patterns, the amount of email that reaches business user inboxes is actually decreasing. Survey respondents indicated that they sent and received an average of 108 email messages per day in 2009, which is noticeably lower than the average of 140 email messages sent and received in 2008. This is a fairly significant decrease of 23%!

This is the first year that we are reporting a decline in the amount of email sent and received, which in the past had been growing considerably at average rate of 10% a year. So what’s happening? Well, as predicted communication is spreading to other technologies besides email, in particular Instant Messaging and Business Social Networks. Based on our survey, in 2009 users spent an average of 19% of their work day (i.e. 1 hour and 17 minutes) sending and receiving email. In addition, they spent 8% of their work day (i.e. 38 minutes) on Business Social Networking sites, and 7% (i.e. 35 minutes) of their work day on Instant Messaging.

So are these new technologies replacing email? We don’t think so, in talking to users we find consistently that different types of communication are finding their way to different media. So for instance, very short 1-line type of emails, such as “let’s have lunch?” or “are you coming to our meeting this afternoon?” are finding their way more appropriately to Instant Messaging which also has the advantage of providing quick replies and closure on a conversation. Whereas a great deal of group communication, such as HR to employee communications, or workgroup communication fits better with Social Networking sites which allow easy, broad sharing of information without the risk of missing anyone (as email distribution lists might have in the past). So while these newer forms of communication are consolidating their presence in the business world, email continues the be a main channel for a large percentage of business communications.

Will the amount of email sent and received continue to go down? Well, we think it’s still much too early to tell, but watch this space for more information in the coming months…