The future of email as the dominant form of electronic communication and collaboration is becoming less certain as spam and the use of instant messaging (IM) chip away at the technology.
According to analyst IDC, more than 20 billion spam messages are expected to be sent daily worldwide by 2006.
IDC's report, Worldwide Email Usage Forecast, 2003-2007: Spam and Instant Messaging Take a Bite out of Email, estimates that spam represents just under a third of all external and internal email sent on an average day in North America in 2003, up from 24 per cent in 2002.
The rising torrent of spam is reducing email's usefulness by forcing users and IT staff to expend time and energy identifying and deleting it, and preventing it from clogging inboxes.
The other prong of the attack against email comes from the value of IM's immediacy and the growing awareness of its presence in the workplace. But it is rapidly becoming more similar to email in terms of corporate requirements for tracking and archiving of messages.
"To keep email at the collaboration centre stage, email proponents will need to do a better job of helping end-users manage email and use other collaborative tools in conjunction with email," said Mark Levitt, research vice president for collaborative computing at IDC.
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