IM, SharePoint tools will edge out email, CIOs say

More than half of CIOs polled see real-time communications tools becoming more popular than traditional email

Email's popularity is waning, and within five years it could be eclipsed by other communication tools favored by employees, new research suggests.

Robert Half Technology polled 1,400 CIOs and asked if they think real-time workplace communication tools -- such as instant messaging, SharePoint and Yammer -- will become more or less popular than email among employees. More than half bet on the newcomers.

Specifically, 13% of CIOs said the real-time tools will be much more popular, and 41% said somewhat more popular, than traditional e-mail. On the other side of the fence, a minority of email holdouts said the real-time tools will be somewhat less popular (5%) or much less popular (2%) than traditional email. More than one-third (38%) straddled the fence, saying they expect the tools will be equally popular. (1% of respondents didn't know or didn't answer.)

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Why might email go the way of snail mail? Robert Half Technology named three benefits a transition to real-time tools could have on the workplace: speed, since IM lets employees have conversations at the click of a button, without opening emails or waiting for responses; convenience, thanks to features like IM, microblogging, forums, and document management that eliminate the need to switch between separate programs; and the social aspect of sites such as Yammer or Chatter that encourage collaboration and could help foster teamwork among employees.

"Although email remains an important communication tool, the increased use of real-time technologies affects the IT environment," said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a statement. "Employers are looking for the right people to deploy these tools in new ways to increase efficiency. IT professionals should consider the importance of keeping current with real-time technologies in order to stay competitive in the job market."

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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