As you read this and the coming installments, please keep in mind these were written when Amazon, Facebook, Google, Tesla, Twitter, and Yahoo! did not yet exist.
Written: November 1993
[email protected] (insert your company or organization name for GetCo). Electronic mail has grown over the past twenty years from a technical tool used by research scientists, to a business tool almost as common as the fax machine. Today, electronic mail is primarily utilized only within a company’s local area networks.
Productivity gains from the use of intra-company e-mail are significant and it has become indispensable to many organizations. However, internal communications represent only a small fraction of overall business activity. Thus, an opportunity exists to derive similar efficiencies from our external communications.
Many people have been introduced to the power of e-mail through commercial on-line services such as America On-line, CompuServe, and Prodigy. A growing number have accounts with Internet access providers. These services have helped spawn a renaissance in the lost art of letter writing. In the process, people have also discovered a world of information which enriches their lives.
E-mail versus snail mail. Then comes Monday morning. Back to work. Does this electronic dialogue continue? In many cases, it does not. The focus once again becomes internal. Electronic communication is too frequently limited to exchanging internal e-mail with fellow employees, while “snail mail” suffices for all outside communications.
Exclusive reliance on paper-based communications with the outside world is increasingly costly. Postal rates continue to rise. Documents require physical handling, the costs of which have become prohibitive in larger organizations. Mail must be opened, time stamped, logged, routed, delivered, duplicated, and filed. Paper-based responses repeat the process.
Getting the maximum from [email protected] takes more than a technology solution. Getting the most out of e-mail requires a change in attitude. Managers may worry about lost productivity because their employees exchange e-mail with their children at college or exchange messages with other non-business sources. While it is certainly possible some employees may abuse this e-mail capability, concerned managers should think of e-mail as a supplement to the telephone.
Productivity will increase significantly if unnecessary or redundant paper communications can be reduced. The effectiveness of communications can also be improved. Responses can be immediate. A good day should contain a few e-mail exchanges with fellow employees and many more with customers, suppliers, and business partners.
E-mail software has become very affordable and is now within the grasp of most businesses. Internet connectivity for e-mail can be achieved through a variety of sources, from a direct connection to the Internet, a dial-up account with an access provider, or even through a commercial on-line service, for companies with more modest communications requirements.