80% of Users Prefer Email to Phone, Says META Group

Apr 25, 2003

META Group, Inc. has announced findings showing that 80% of businesspeople surveyed believe email to be more valuable than the phone for business communication. The findings are the result of a recent META Group survey designed to identify the preferred method of business communication. Findings also revealed that 74% of respondents believe being without email would present more of a hardship than being without phone service. The top three reasons cited by respondents who preferred email over the phone were: email facilitates communication with multiple parties, email enables more rapid communication, and email generates a written record of the interaction. For organizations, these findings underscore a need to bring phone-like reliability and stability to the email environment, but email also presents many challenges not faced by telephone communications. According to META Group, email systems are also faced with the scourge of spam, circulation of salacious content, destructive viruses, and system failures as well as newer, malicious attacks such as denial of service and mail bombs. META Group believes the creation of safe, secure, and stable mail systems will be a major IT imperative for organizations throughout the decade, requiring significant increases in labor and financial resources. The survey also indirectly pointed out some of the shortcomings of email. The top three reasons why respondents choose the phone over email are that the phone is more personal, it creates better context for communication, and it helps clarify the tone of messages. These findings suggest that email is sometimes seen as impersonal and prone to misunderstanding, because verbal cues and context are missing. The survey findings underscore the rapidly changing nature of business communications. Other relevant changes include: email and other communication options are fast replacing faxing for document delivery --research shows that the number of faxed pages has dropped 50% during the last five years. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), a technology used for transmitting telephone calls over shared IP networks such as the Internet, is now viewed as a credible alternative to traditional telephone infrastructures in certain situations. Over 90% of Global 2000 knowledge workers are expected to have instant messaging by 2007. META Group conducted the online survey regarding the use of email versus phone for business communication among 387 organizations, representing a range of company sizes and industries worldwide. The research was conducted using a panel comprising IT and line-of-business personnel, as well as corporate executives who make business and/or IT decisions for their organizations.