Whether you loathe it or love it, e-mail is not going away anytime soon. Despite what many naysayers predict, it is still a favoured means of corporate communication with research published in McKinsey’s Quarterly report late last year indicating that workers still typically spend 28% of every workday (or around 13 hours per week) reading, writing and filing e-mails.

This is because it is instant, can be a private one on one conversation (or one sending a message to a select few, or one broadcasting to many) and secure.

Inboxes don’t just pull double duty as an employee’s to-do list and virtual filing cabinet. E-mail inboxes also contain vast amounts of information and knowledge.

Not just in terms of the valuable contact information for business associates, colleagues, clients, and vendors, but also for the ideas contained within the bodies of the mail, since many people regularly use the medium to share their opinions, ideas and expertise with others. Queries are responded to. Employees are advised and mentored. Important statistics about the company are attached, sent and received.

“The problem with traditional e-mail is that many of those same qualities that make it still such a favourable mode of communication in the first place – such as privacy – also makes it prohibitive in this age of information sharing and collaboration via enterprise social networking (ESN),” says Dayle Wheeler, MD of ModernBusiness and the founder of the Advanced Business Mail ESN platform, formerly known as “ideas”.

“Since it is locked away behind a password, all that knowledge is inaccessible to anyone else in the company. Worse still, it disappears from the company’s knowledge base when an employee leaves the company, shuttering their company inbox and the wealth of knowledge contained within for good.”

The solution is not to do away with e-mail entirely in favour of ESN, as many have argued, but to find a way to merge the two.

“Video didn’t kill the radio star and the arrival of the Internet and e-mail didn’t make the telephone and business calls obsolete, even though many a modern-day Nostradamus predicted that it would,” Wheeler says. “And now, we’re reliving this. Only this time, e-mail is at the receiving end of the doom, with many predicting that it is going to be killed off by ESN.”

Wheeler does not agree.

“ESN is still very much in its infancy, while the global e-mail system has already proven its staying power by evolving and being adapted from the set of simple protocols for exchanging text-based communications that was developed years ago. Like the telephone, it is still being used because it works and I believe that e-mail is also going to stick around for a while longer.

“This is why I have decided to change my ‘ideas’ ESN platform and enhance it by turning it into an ESN with an e-mail twist. Advanced Business Mail harnesses the best of both traditional ESN and e-mail. It combines the familiarity and selectivity and privacy of e-mail with the spirit of knowledge sharing and openness of ESN.

“With Advanced Business Mail, your company will have an effective way of tapping into all that knowledge otherwise hidden in employee inboxes,” Wheeler concludes.