The future of email – Farewell Ray Tomlinson

Opening up the news this morning I was surprised to learn of the death of Ray Tomlinson. Tomlinson has been credited with the invention of email dating back to its days a as a secure messaging platform within ARPANET. 

There is no doubt that email has changed the style and format of our communication but it got me thinking about what the future of communications might look like. A couple of thoughts…

“Auto Readers” – Is there a potential to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to have our emails read and summarized appropriately for us leaving more time to reflection? 

Virtual Assistants – Will we see an increase in virtual computer based assistants for businesses and individuals seeking routine administrative help? Theoretically the advent of open APIs for calendar, mail and even reservation systems (airline, restaurant, etc.) presents a prime opportunity for us to move from an expectation of “let me do it” to “do it for me”. 

Texting / Instant Messaging – Clearly real-time communication has moved away from email and onto instant messaging. In our children we see an explosion of real-time communication with some some reportedly sending thousands of messages a month. In addition 3rd party instant messaging platforms (whatsup, snapchat) have overtaken native SMS messaging due to security and a richer experience. 

Real-time messaging will continue to grow and will dominate in the “machine-human” and “human-human” information flow. As machines get smarter the key linkage here will be finding a way to get the right information at the right time. For enterprises it will be finding a way to get their key messages heard (and read) above everything else. 

Social Media – Definitely the richest form of electronic communication Social has exploded over the last decade growing into a critical connection point for many people. Moving forward I would predict we will see Social Media growing from a “people-people” platform to include a “people-things” element. It could very well become commonplace for folks to follow key devices (home appliances, health monitors) to get key updates. What better way for me to find out what I need to buy or how my body is doing then via private social media post from my devices 🙂

Video Conferencing / Web conferencing – While significant progress has been made the promise of “effective collaboration” via video conferencing has eluded us. While lectures can be effectively consumed remotely people don’t collaborate well over the Internet. Even with webcams and high fidelity audio the experience does not replicate a traditional “office brainstorm” and often falls flat. Remote learning and information sharing will see increased growth on the back of Video Conferencing but will not provide an alternative for effective “face-to-face” collaboration for the foreseeable future. 

It’s clear that we are communicating more than ever and with the advent of the “Internet of Things” there will be more messages for us to react to than ever before. I have no doubt that we will also scale our ability to effectively process all of these messages through the use of analytics and artificial intelligence. At the end of it all we will be more “connected” than ever before. 

One thought on “The future of email – Farewell Ray Tomlinson

  1. Ed

    Hi, A.I. auto-readers? A lot of people write emails with /subtle /nuances of speech and these may be very hard to “summarize” IMO.

    Good read overall. e


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s