Fortunately, these communication mechanisms will start to merge together, analysts predict. Radicati believes that email in the next two to five years won't look tremendously different, but we won't talk about email so much as a stand-alone tool. Instead, we'll have a communications dashboard that includes email, instant messaging and social media.
These hubs will all come about thanks to new open APIs, not only for social media applications like Facebook and LinkedIn, but also for unified communications protocols like Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP).
Forrester's Koplowitz concurs. "Over the next few years, we'll see greater integration across these tools. Think about how messaging is integrated into Gmail -- you don't have to switch back and forth because they're all integrated together," he says, citing work that IBM (with Connections and Notes), Google (with Gmail and Gchat), Microsoft (with SharePoint and Yammer) and Facebook are doing.
"We'll have a new environment with new aspects of communication," Koplowitz predicts. "Today they're different tools, but in the next three to five years, they'll be integrated."