Snail devours email

Predictions of the future are often challenging. They force us to imagine things quite at odds with reality as we know it. Consider when it was suggested that formal, hand-written letters, envelopes and postage stamps would be a thing of the past? That they would be replaced by an entirely new, electronic form of communication.  The idea was preposterous to us oldies but look at how email has become an integral part of the fabric of our lives.

So, when someone now suggests that email is about to become passé, it’s no wonder our initial reaction is to scoff. That scepticism may even turn to cynicism when we learn the idea comes from the overlord of the nation’s snailmail system, Australia Post. But Ahmed Fahour has a great track record as a business guru so he may be worth listening to.

He says that 98% of emails are junk mail which gives rise to serious security concerns. He also says email is under threat from the popularity of social media. He is not predicting the complete demise of email, saying it will have its purposes.

It’s Fahour’s suggestion for the successor to email that may make us think twice about the validity of his scenario. He is promoting an Australia Post innovation that will offer high security digital online mailboxes. He proposes that they would become our new letterbox, filing cabinet and bank account.

Yes, the idea seems silly at face value – largely because it doesn’t appear to offer real value. But when we consider the consequences of stolen identities and other forms of data theft – as Fahour urges us to – the idea may be worth a second glance.

Heaven knows that trying to remember or even keep track of numerous passwords so that if one service gets hacked, we won’t lose everything is a monumental pain the rear end. So, Australia Post is betting the future on the provision of really secure electronic mailboxes, primarily for bill-paying and mail that does need to be protected.

The key target in this transformation is government since Australia Post gets 95% of its revenue from Big Brother and business communicating with us, the real people. Given that these new mail boxes will be made available to us for free and if government and business start using them there’s a good chance we will come along for the ride without too much kicking and screaming.

We’ve coped with change before so maybe we’re about to experience another revolution?