But the study also shows that 45 percent figure is going to start dropping next year and decrease dramatically by 2007, creating a huge market for workplace email. The Radicati Group, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based market research and consulting firm, says the market has the potential to be a $6.7 billion business.
''This market is being born from enterprises that have determined that the technology is to the point that it's silly for everyone not to have email,'' says Marcel Nienhuis, a market analyst at the Radicati Group, which conducted the study. ''What's happened is that companies have excluded these workers from email access and now they're out of the loop about what's happening in the enterprise. They're getting their corporate information from notes tacked to a bulletin board.''
And Nienhuis says companies won't be giving every factory or warehouse worker a desk and a laptop. Instead, IT managers will be called on to install email kiosks that can serve anywhere from 10 to 100 workers. During a break or lunchtime or after hours, workers can go to the kiosk to access inter-office email -- information from HR, corporate newsletters and questions from payroll.
The question that remains is if these companies will enable employees to email with friends and family outside of the company.
But Nienhuis says many companies may want to inhibit non-work-related email out of fears of liability and lost productivity, but others will make it available to improve employee morale and provide an easy perk.
With a down economy and low IT spending, when will this bump come in the workplace email market?
That, Nienhuis says, is debatable. But he expects it to start picking up in 2004 and then taking off in 2005. Then, if the economy holds, workplace email spending is expected to ride through the next several years.
So who doesn't have email?
Nienhuis says they had a fairly liberal range when gauging the corporate workforce. He said it's not just about engineers, CEOs and accountants. The corporate worker list also includes flight attendants, factory workers, nurses and warehouse workers. People working in the field were not included in the study.
''The potential market is enormous,'' says Nienhuis. ''It would increase employees' knowledge of corporate information, boost morale and reduce paper costs. There are a lot of benefits.''