Thursday, December 8, 2011

IT firm Atos CEO bans Email, claims "we are not using it the way it was intended"

Atos CEO Thierry Breton has made waves recently with his plan to ban the use of internal Emails at his company, one of the largest IT firms in the world with over 80,000 employees.  The plan, which was first described earlier this year, calls for a zero email policy to take effect in around 18 months.  Communication will take the form of social media tools, phone calls, and face to face meetings.  Describing Email use in his company, Theirry told the BBC that "15% of the messages [are] useful, and the rest was lost time.".

Theirry engaged in an in-depth study and realized that managers were spending an average of 15-20 hours a week checking and answering internal emails, and that employees received an average of 100 emails a day.  According to The Daily Mail, he claims only 20 out of 200 are truly important, and it takes 64 seconds to get back on the ball after reading a distracting Email.  With an average employee age of 35, Breton claims his is a "young company," and that a trial run with 500 younger employees is already going great.  The Telegraph quotes the supporting argument that, according to, only 11 per cent of 11 to 19 year-olds use Email anyway.

So is this the wave of the future?

Probably.  But I'm guessing it will be a smaller wave than people think.

Ty Kiisel over at Forbes, talking about this issue, notes that he is finding an increasing amount of his communication is being done over social media, but also notes that he uses his phone more for email than for calling, which is sort of a mixed signal since it's both "the wave of the future" of phones and, according to Breton, the soon-to-be remnants of the past because it's still Email.  Personally, as a smartphone owner, I certainly find myself texting more often than when I had a flip phone, and there's no denying that smartphones will be in most people's pockets sooner or later.  However, I don't think Email's going away as a personal tool.

I actually find Email quicker and easier than Facebook or Twitter for directed messaging, though it obviously falls short for sharing with a large audience (I can't remember the last time I was on a list-serv).  Perhaps the problem is that Email occupies a middle ground - for short messages to small groups, texting is faster, and for messages to large groups, various social media is far easier - leaving Email only with long messages to small groups.  Hmm... is it me, or isn't that the domain of written letters, which is actually what Email was first supposed to replace?  It didn't of course, just like eBooks have not killed written books, but it's an interesting relationship to consider.  Having gone so far from that, as Breton says, maybe we're just not using it how we should anymore.

Picture via Engadget

No comments:

Post a Comment