Is email on the way out?

January 9, 2015 | Last updated on January 9, 2015
3 min read

It’s time to replace email. For the past 20 years, it’s been the premier business communication tool. But carbon copying and promotional offers have led to overstuffed, unsorted inboxes. Email’s usefulness is collapsing under its own weight.

Let’s look at two newer solutions you can use to communicate effectively.


Yammer is the hidden gem of Microsoft’s business offerings. It lets any sized business set up private social networks for communicating. Like Facebook, its main screen is a collection of comments, web links and photos. But, unlike Facebook, it has three features that make it a suitable office tool.

1. It’s only visible to those who are invited, and you must have a company email to join.

2. Postings can be tagged and sorted, then searched and grouped using the # and @ symbols. So you can create company specific tags such as: #Admin, #Shipping, @ClientName, @Supplier. This helps you and your colleagues quickly search, reply and solve problems regardless of how recently they were posted to the main screen.

3. Subgroups can be created with separate members who are outside the company. So issues such as outsourcing or marketing campaigns can have their own desktops, files, share documents and members.

Yammer is available as a free service, or as a paid part of Office 365 (starting at $3 per user, per month). It’s available online and as a mobile app for Apple, Android, Microsoft and BlackBerry phones. There’s a chat option built into the software.


Trillian is a messaging aggregation app. You can log into your AOL, MSN, Google or Yahoo accounts all at once, allowing you to communicate seamlessly between each of them. In my office, we use it as a quick alternative to email, voicemail or a knock on the door. You can quickly ask a question, get an answer and return to work with minimal interruption.

Conversations are organized by person, not by date, as a single stream (much like texting or chat). You also avoid the signature lines and carbon-copying within email.

A single login lets you communicate from any computer or mobile device. So, questions can be asked via phone and answered via desktop. You can attach files as needed, and several people can talk at once from any device. The whole conversation is encrypted and secure.

Here’s one of my actual Trillian logs:

(on office laptop)

Kevin Cork: can you check the ESPP uptake numbers for last month for me?

absolutebarb: Sure, right away

absolutebarb: re: ESPP, as of August 9/14, we have 30% participation.

(now on my phone)

Kevin Cork: Thanks Barb. Is my little iPod sitting on the counter or couch?

absolutebarb: I can’t see it anywhere

Kevin Cork: Ok, thanks

Kevin Cork: One more thing. Can you see anything on S’s desk for D**’s contract bid?

absolutebarb: She has paperwork done for a $9,000 bid.

(home computer now)

Kevin Cork: Yes, we need to redo the proposal for market value.

absolutebarb: She may have been waiting for an updated assessment.

Kevin Cork: Can you dig up the most recent figures and send it to D**?

These apps, like Workflowy and Evernote, are all part of the next generation of flexible and mobile friendly options that will come to supplant, and eventually replace, legacy email systems. They’re simple to use and secure.