1. Email on the rise

While around 281 billion emails were sent and received daily worldwide in 2018, an increase to more than 347 billion emails per day is expected in 2022, according to a study. More than half of this relates to business. But there is still paper in many places.

As the speed increases, e-mails replace the classic business letter. The advantages of e-mails are enormous at first glance: fast, easy, free. In the following article we took the trouble and collected the advantages and disadvantages of the communication media e-mail, mail, EDI and fax. Of course, this collection does not claim to be complete. In doing so, we deliberately focused on the classical media. We will complement new forms of communication, such as Messanger services, with increasing relevance.

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e-mail fax post edi

e-mail fax post edi

2. E-mail | Pros and cons

2.1. Benefits

  • Faster and cheaper than mail (printing, envelop, postage, staff)
  • Sending and receiving in real time
  • Electronic storage is cheaper than physical
  • Easy to use, extensive possibilities of use
  • Documents in electronic form – possibility of automatic further processing and storage
  • Easy way to encrypt
  • Quick and hassle-free response

2.2. Disadvantages

  • Absence of signatures (largely fixed by Signature Act)
  • Feedback on whether e-mail arrived is not always possible
  • Authenticity and security (remediation through encryption)

3. Post | Pros and cons

3.1. Benefits

  • A letter is personal
  • Signature

3.2 Disadvantages

  • Significantly more expensive than an email
  • More elaborate in the creation
  • Difficulties with delivery (especially for foreign addresses)

4. EDI | Pros and cons

4.1. Benefits

  • Cost reduction – moreexpensive than paper
  • Time Savings – Faster Processes
  • Easy processing on the other side
  • Automation enables employees to work on higher-quality tasks
  • Quality
  • Improved cooperation

4.2. Disadvantages

  • High costs – implementation is often only worthwhile for large business partners
  • High complexity

5. Fax | Pros and cons

5.1. Benefits

  • Faster than mail
  • Fax machines an option if e-mail is not possible
  • Broadcast report as an additional means of proof (but: Fax easily accessible to third parties. The broadcast report is therefore not reliable proof of proper reception)

5.2. Disadvantages

  • According to the Bavarian State Commissioner for Data Protection, major problems with the issue of data security (e.g. because situtation with the recipient is unclear) – https://www.datenschutz-bayern.de/technik/orient/telefax.htm
  • Only “copy” of the original document
  • Shipping is lengthy on many pages
  • Black and white only – unusable for graphics and photos
  • Substitution by e-mail to be expected
  • If physical fax machine is necessary, then various other disadvantages

6. Conclusion

Displacement of classical communication media

It is not without reason that e-mail has been repeatedly voted the most popular and important digital communication medium in recent years in surveys. This applies to both private individuals and businesses. Compared to the classic media, it offers various advantages.

Studies predict that the traditional means of communication will be completely suppressed in the short or long term. Various reasons for this are identified. One of the main causes of displacement is often cited as the “objective benefits” of digital communication. These advantages of digital means of communication primarily include time, cost-saving potential, constant availability and ease of use. This applies to both the administration and the user. The change in the communication culture as well as the increase in legal regulations in this area are regarded as further major causes of the media change. But the change continues. New forms of communication are constantly being ensnared. SMS short messages, portals, social media are just a few of them. What is still used privately today can become interesting for companies tomorrow.

Although social networking, messenger services, and collaboration software are also common in organizations, the e-mail system remains a mission-critical application. However, the nature and use is also changing.


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Products SAP Mail – MailCenter

SAP Mail


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