The e-nd of e-mail?

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The e-nd of e-mail?

Postby jon » Fri Dec 16, 2011 1:37 pm

IT firm phasing out email to boost productivity
CBC News
Posted: Dec 16, 2011 1:54 PM ET

Global technology giant Atos, which plans to stop using email internally by 2014, says it is already seeing the benefits of the initiative.

Atos, a French firm with 80,000 employees around the world, first announced the plan — described by some critics as "stupid" and by others as "ingenious" — in February.

The company said an internal review found that on average, employees spend 15 to 20 hours a week on email, and only 15 per cent of the emails are actually useful.

It also found that younger workers barely used email, relying more on social media, said Holger Kormann, general manager of Atos Canada, which has 250 employees.

The company is currently in the early stages of creating awareness of the initiative and introducing replacement tools such as instant messaging, video conferencing, Facebook, and collaboration software such as live meeting, Kormann told CBC's The Current.

"We believe the productivity and the innovation and the buy-in for the employees will significantly go up over the next couple years," he said.

Already, he said, instant messaging has proven to be more effective for time-sensitive communications, and Kormann has reduced his own email load by 20 per cent.

Over time, the initiative will help balance people's personal and professional time, he said, as people are no longer contacted while they are away from the office.

Luis Suarez, a social computing expert who works for IBM in the Canary Islands, stopped using email in 2008. At that time, some people were shocked, he said.

"There were a couple of people even hinting that I would be fired," he recalled.

Others thought it was a crazy move, but it could work. He says it has — now, he maintains contact with colleagues and clients through the internal IBM Connections business social software system and through two external social networks, including Google Plus.

William Powers, author of Hamlet's BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age, said in Atos's case, it sounds like phasing out email has already allowed the company to realize amazing efficiencies and gains.

"I think this is something every organization should be thinking about," he added.

Powers said Atos isn't the first company to consider phasing out email.

"Other companies including Intel the chip-maker have been doing experiments of this kind for a decade or more," he said. "In fact, the tech companies have always been leading the way in rethinking the very tools that they make."

Kormann said technology companies are better equipped than other firms to pilot and test an environment without email because alternative tools have long been part of their organization.

Jonathan Spira, author of Overload! How Too Much Information Is Hazardous to Your Organization, has spent years studying what communications tools work better when and found that the answer changes as the tools evolve. He agrees that companies and their workers will benefit from thinking about how email can adversely impact work and personal lives and being more thoughtful about its use. For example, he recommends copying as few people as possible on emails, to avoid the lost productivity that comes from interrupting them in the middle of a task.

However, Spira said he doesn't think we can be rid of email completely in the next couple of years because the alternatives can't always replace it: "The one thing that doesn't work is to completely turn off email, even for a day."

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Re: The e-nd of e-mail?

Postby jon » Sat Dec 17, 2011 12:39 pm

First I had heard of this, and really a head scratcher for me. After all, Text Messaging is just e-mail in disguise, and is tremendously popular, though perhaps not in the business world.

Anyway, I just don't get it. As I recall, e-mail was the last piece of the "Electronic Office" wave that overtook Business in the 1990s. Word Processing was the first piece of the "Computer on every Desktop" movement that saw the ranks of Secretaries decimated almost overnight. e-mail replaced the paper memo, and a good deal of formal correspondence, especially internally by paper letter on company stationary.

Maybe I just don't get it, but I predict this whole "e-mail is dead" thing will swing like the proverbial pendulum and Business will again embrace e-mail after first changing how it is used. As the article says, it makes no sense to interrupt someone's work every time an e-mail arrives in their in-box, even with a good spam filter. There also needs to be a lot less people on the cc list of most e-mails within companies.

Using Instant Messaging instead of e-mail for everything makes no sense at all. Instant Messaging is much more intrusive, in terms of requiring immediate response. In fact, telephone calls are more efficient in most situations where immediate interaction is required with another person.

Of course, I really don't know how companies are/will be using Social Networking. It might work quite well if they had their clone of Facebook within the company. Everyone could logon at their leisure and see what everyone they work with is up to. Using Facebook, of course, is ridiculous, because the important company info would get mixed in with the personal info. Not to mention the confidentiality issue of you posting company and personal information on the same Facebook account that all your friends and co-workers can read.

But I suspect that, before, long you will have Friended everyone in your company and be overloaded with status updates from areas within the company that don't have any relevance to you. e-mail is actually better in that regard, since you wouldn't normally get e-mails from that far afield.

What everyone agrees does work, in terms of Social Networking, is a Facebook-like approach for everyone working on a Project. But that existed long before Facebook's founder made it through Junior High.
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Re: The e-nd of e-mail?

Postby Buckley » Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:09 pm

We use e-mail where I work all the time, it's preferred/mandatory at times. Though I'm Facebook friends with all of my employees/co-workers, I don't really consider it an "official" communication tool (if someone misses a shift and later tells me they texted me or sent me a Facebook message about it, I won't count it... e-mail or calls are the only thing I count as official). That company clearly has an issue though with too many people being CCed on unimportant e-mails, only 15% of the e-mail being useful? We had a bit of an issue with that (not that bad though), now we just have rules against it... don't send things to people if it doesn't have anything to do with them! It's really simple.

I don't see e-mail going away any time soon... I heard the same about SMS (text) messaging recently too. Tell that to all the kids I see that can't go 5 minutes without their phone in their hand.
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