I work in a two-story office. On the first floor of the office there is a small room in which one wall is occupied by a number of slots, with names of people underneath each slot.
For my younger readers, let me explain that this room is called a “mailroom.” A long, long time ago, companies such as my employer would receive tons of mail every day, most of which was addressed to particular employees of the company. Someone in the company would go through all of the daily mail and stick in in the appropriate slot. Later in the day, employees such as myself would go to the mailroom, look at our particular slots, and get our mail.
Residential users and small company owners may not realize this, but business mail to non-executive individuals at large companies has declined over the years. Even a couple of years ago, I could count on receiving mail almost every day. Now days or weeks go by where I don’t get anything in my mailbox in the mailroom.
Part of this is due to personal circumstances. Product managers tend to get more snail mail than proposal writers, so there’s been a natural decline as some (not all) mailers realize that I’m no longer a Motorola product manager.
But part of this is due to technological changes. If you’ve read my business blog, you’ll recall that I have been getting a free subscription to a magazine that talks about Information and is published every Week. Well, lately I haven’t been receiving it any more. And it’s not because the magazine removed me from its subscription list; it removed EVERYBODY from its subscription list. This was announced earlier this year in a press release that began with the most compact collection of mumbo-jumbo ever assembled:
Today UBM Tech, the global media business that brings together the world’s technology industry through live events and online properties, announces a strategic shift in the company’s focus toward a unique business model. UBM Tech will combine its industry leading event brands with its industry leading digital brands in a community-driven business model underpinned by deep analytics illustrating community interests and behaviors. This proven community model supports peer-to-peer learning and education, industry information and training and provides marketing solutions for the industry.
Once you decipher the words above, you realize that this business model isn’t all that unique. Oh, and the press release writer forgot to use the verb “engage.”
But if you can’t decipher the words above, it all becomes clear by the time you get to the eighth paragraph of the press release. Yes, the eighth paragraph.
UBM Tech will cease to provide print publications as of July 1, 2013. InformationWeek will continue online, where it’s [sic] strong brand and loyal audiences will benefit from the new community model for greater engagement.
OK, the press release writer worked “engagement” into the techbabble. I was getting worried that UBM Tech wasn’t being trendy enough.
But UBM Tech isn’t the only company that’s failing to populate my mailbox. Other computer publications have ceased their print editions, and even the solicitors are moving away from clogging my box in the mailroom and are clogging my e-mail instead.
And our company mailroom is becoming a desolate place.
The funny part is that some of my co-workers have mailboxes that are full. But it’s not because they’re getting tons of printed mail; it’s because they haven’t been to the mailroom in months and therefore haven’t picked up the few pieces of mail that they are getting.
Eventually large companies are going to do away with mailrooms altogether – if they remember to eliminate them. More than likely, mailrooms will just become empty rooms with the names of former employees (and some current employees who have been around for decades). New employees will stumble into the rooms, stare around in wonder, and try to figure out what these rooms are.
(At the same time, of course, mail delivery itself may become obsolete. But that’s a completely separate topic.)