Will Generation Z be the death of email?

A generation known for communicating through emojis, memes and gifs across multiple channels may be the biggest threat to email as we know it.|A generation known for communicating through emojis, memes and gifs across multiple channels may be the biggest threat to email as we know it.

In today’s digital world full of noise, competing technologies and time-zapping apps, we are in danger of drowning in information overload; constantly checking into our social channels and using instant messaging systems for 24/7 communication.

Email has been the premier form of online communication for years and the number of email accounts worldwide is predicted to reach 5.59 billion by 2019.

Yet, for the forthcoming generations known as Gen Z (those born after 1990) it has been speculated that email is becoming irrelevant. These are the first generations not using email as their channel of choice, favouring instead the instant conversational tools like Snapchat and WhatsApp.

Younger people will take to Twitter or Facebook to complain about a brand and post pictures of their daily adventures on Instagram. Even staying in touch with distant older relatives can be done using social networks: a 2015 study claims that a whopping 75% of internet-using parents are on Facebook.

So will this shift in online communication habits be the final nail in the coffin for email?

I think not. This difference in communication tool usage is just another in a long line of generational differences between teens and grown-ups. It is no different than linear TV viewing vs. ‘Netflix and Chill’, dubious fashion choices and shifting social activities. Just because teens today are satisfied with watching Thatcher Joe videos on YouTube doesn’t mean they always will.

Emojis and videos delivered to friends via Snapchat will never suffice when it comes to delivering sensitive and important information, at these crucial points, an IM won’t cut it. The IM generation hasn’t embraced email because they haven’t yet needed to reap the benefits.

When Gen Zs adopt email – for the most part when they start work – they will be far better at ‘dealing’ with some of the perceived, current pitfalls of email.

These generations will eventually lead a far more balanced digital lifestyle than any before them. Having grown up with technology at their fingertips, they are best placed to decide which aspects to adapt to their needs. This is in stark contrast to previous, older generations who had email forced upon them and were offered no choice but to use the technology in the way set down by its creators.

No longer will people want to check email first thing each morning, send a flood of messages each day and come back from holiday to an overloaded inbox.

But with email tightly woven into the fabric of our digital professional existence, they will need it and it will need them. As soon as they start to seek out tools that offer a digital life balance where quality prevails and where the ability to focus directly trumps the noise, they will find email. Of all our channels, email is the one associated with getting stuff done.

It’s also important that email remains relevant by pairing it up with exciting technological advances such as Artificial Intelligence tools.

AI has already proven itself as a flexible tool to organise and filter incoming messages. It has the power to eliminate Inbox noise and flag up the important stuff that needs dealing with quickly. AI itself is in constant motion and its effect on the future email will be profound.

Against 140 characters, a direct message or a quick-fire round of chat, email stacks up quite favourably for our future workforce when extra detail and nuance are required.

Bostjan Bregar is the CEO of 4th Office.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

Related Topics

Email Marketing
Generation Z