Here are my choices
At work I have these choices for communication
- in person
- instant messaging
- instant video conference
- planned video/web conferencing
- internal wiki
All options other than email and wiki require the other persons to be present. Some of the folks I need to involve in discussions do not come in before 9, some leave by 4, and many take extended or shifting lunch breaks, so between 11:30 and 1:30 any discussions are off the table. On any given day one of the coworkers that should be in a discussion is out or has a special assignment. Also, several folks are working remotely all the time in the armpits of nowhere having spotty connectivity that at times is not fast enough to support video conferencing.
So if we manage to find an hour where people are available we typically spend at least 10 minutes to figure out how to get the web based conferencing system to work (so much for "meetings made easy"). By that time a few discussions already started leaving the remotes at a disadvantage...assuming they will ever come online as there is also often problems with the VoIP phone system in the office that connects through leased lines to a central switchboard at the other end of the country.
Email always works and it is easy to use. You can submit a question to a few people and they respond within the day. Wiki is another option, but our internal wiki is not accessible to everyone in the company and buried behind a login page which makes using it a pain in the rear because often enough the login does not work properly.
People don't use these supposedly awesome collaboration 3.0 tools because they suck. Why do I always have to dial 20 digits and constantly turn on or off things for each meeting? What I want is to configure a meeting session once and then have a shortcut on the desktop that sets up the web session as well as dials the phone automatically and ask only one question: record session?
Another reason why folks keep using email is that except for IM it requires people to talk. We do not have nice offices with doors, just a bunch of cubes. Talking to someone is a major disruption to anyone around who is not involved in the discussion. Yes, we do have conference rooms, but they are often booked or folks just use them at will no matter if someone reserved the room or not.
Email is awesome. It is simple, it is fast, it is text based, it is easy to forward and archive, it is easy to search, it is easy to filter, and it is easy on the network bandwidth (unlike video streams). So until we get a tool that indeed makes meetings easy and we get offices where we can talk to someone at will without disturbing others nothing will change.