Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 8, 200610:50 PM

Email - The Great Disrupter... And Connector

First off, this will not be a customer service complaint Blog posting against Bell and their business Internet solution (although, it damn well should be). Ever since Twist Image moved in to ex-centris, we've been having Internet connectivity issues. I did not realize until today how bad it has become. Sure, it's frustrating to have sudden Internet drop-off or speeds that are more akin to dial-up, but my discovery early this morning really made me shudder.

Our new Media Director, Alexandre Henault, had attempted to send me an email, twice, that I did not receive. I thought that his SMTP was incorrect or other "normal" technical glitches that come with the territory. Then I realized that I had sent a lot of emails the previous day and did not hear back from anyone. Because I also sent emails from my Blackberry (which I did get responses from) it did not click that my emails were not delivered.

I hopped over to the Sent Items folder in Outlook and realized that over the past three to four days, I have actually not received any replies from emails composed on my laptop.

The horror.

They were marked as sent (with no email back from Bell saying that the message was undeliverable or that the message could not be sent). I've now spent the past several hours, retracing every email and re-sending those that were not done from my Blackberry. As you can imagine, there were many client related ones that needed urgent attention, time sensitive matters and the like.

I learned an important lesson.

Email has made communication so much faster that I think we actually take for granted how much real communication gets done through the channel. If you can swim faster than the spam, it is still a tremendously powerful tool. The challenge is we're moving so fast that issues which would normally require a meeting, maybe a quick phone call or a gathering of multiple parties now gets dismissed in a thirty-second-typed email message that, once it is relegated to the Sent Items folder, is practically forgotten. It's like checking it off on a to-do list. You send the email and you assume that the issue is resolved.

As I was streaming through Outlook and re-sending all of the emails, it made me pause and marvel at how much work gets done in a short amount of time because of technology (is email still considered technology?). Yes, I know, email ain't that sexy any more. We're all pretty much fed up with the channel (you should see how many e-newsletters and the like I have unsubscribed to in lieu of RSS), but email is a primary form of business communication.

Think about this: if you really want to reach me, try email. If you leave a voice mail, it may take me a while to get back to you, as I am rarely in my office. Email has surpassed leaving a voice message in terms of efficacy in connecting.

As social media becomes more ubiquitous and we begin connecting to those channels via mobile devices, imagine how communications will change.

Lastly, if you sent me an email in the past while and did not hear back from me, please let me know so I can correct this mistake. Please accept my apologies.

By Mitch Joel


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