E-mail could soon be the new “snail mail.”

Workplace use of real-time communication tools may be more popular than e-mail in the next five years, according to a survey of 1,400 CIOs across the U.S.

Approximately 54 percent of CIOs spanning a variety of industries said applications such as instant messaging, SharePoint and Yammer — a social network designed for intercompany communications — would supplant on-the-job e-mail use by employees. The survey was sponsored by Robert Half Technology, an IT professional staffing agency.

Based on telephone interviews between CIOs from companies with more than 100 employees and an independent research firm, 41 percent of those surveyed believed real-time communication would be “somewhat more popular” than e-mail, while 13 percent believed it would be “much more popular.”

“Although e-mail remains an important communication tool, the increased use of real-time technologies affects the IT environment,” said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a statement. “Employers are looking for the right people to deploy these tools in new ways to increase efficiency. IT professionals should consider the importance of keeping current with real-time technologies in order to stay competitive in the job market.”

Robert Half Technology suggested that real-time communication tools could have a variety of benefits to the workplace, including speed of conversation, convenience and improvement of efficiency in regard to communication. The agency also touted the camaraderie-building potential between co-workers using a work-related social media platform.