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Could ditching email improve productivity & network security?

Posted by Geraldine Hunt on Mon, Dec 5th, 2011

Company of 50,000 employees abandons email

It was interesting to read this week that the CEO of  Atos has decided that the company will be rid of email by 2012. Yes, they are abandoning email completely. The Telegraph reports that the company plan to revert to old fashioned methods of communications like face to face and telephone as well as instant messaging and Facebook type interfaces enabling fast and direct conversations - they’re getting back to basics.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Atos CEO Thierry Breton hasn't sent a work email for three years, this is staggering when you consider he heads a very large technology company  with over 50,000 employees and begs the question – why?  

Email isn't always the best option.

Traditional email spam volumes are down dramatically, this is the result of many factors including the fact that email security solutions are now an extremely sophisticated technology. On inception email was intended to enable communication across geographies while improving and speeding up communications.  As penetration and usage increased email has now become the default option for communication when in many instances email just isn’t the right communication tool to use. Often users are  trying to get too much information from someone or they're trying to convey too much information.

Some examples of when not to email :

  • When you need an immediate response: if you’re in a hurry use the phone or face to face.
  • When delivering sensitive information: Sometimes tone of voice can make a big difference, this means getting on the phone or meeting the person, this way your body language can do a large part of the talking.
  • When the process or subject is complex: To grab attention, influence and ensure understanding then text is unlikely to be enough.
  • When you are you are irritated: Sometimes it’s easier and very tempting to say what you think in writing - especially when sitting in front of a keyboard all day. DON'T. E-rage is not good  for your career.

It’s regularly reported  that email is dead or dying, and has been killed by social media, instant messaging or even face-to-face human interaction. The distraction of email hindering productivity is not a new concept and seems to be the basis of the Atos decision. According to Pingdom, there are a total of about 3 billion email accounts on the planet and growing and Facebook has 700 million members and falling.

The ethos of getting back to basics, encouraging more phone and face to face conversation is one to be encouraged and saves time and money in the long term as well as fostering better relations. Email, text and chat are all very similar in that you only know that messages from any of these platforms has been read if you get a reply. If you want instant communication that includes a response, you must talk on the phone or in person.

Using alternative forms of business communication tools will allow us to redefine email

Tweets, status updates, video calls and instant messages are helping to redefine email by taking away everything email was never was supposed to be. It’s true that chat requires less managment and is faster than email, but can you imagine sending a customer an official quotation via instant messenger? This message will be important to you. You will put a certain effort into creating it and it it will likely need to be retained for a period of time after you sent it.

The concept of email plays a central role in the day to day operations of any company, the inclusion of instant messaging and social networking in no way beckons the "death" of email. On the contrary, the rise of new innovative business communication options enables us redefine email and allows it to further evolve into what it is meant to be.

Sometimes technology transforms but doesn’t die

It’s funny to think that radio was called wireless in the early 1900’s. The same radio signals work today as they did in Marconi’s time just at different frequencies. Email is likely to transform greatly over the coming decades and we will probably end up calling it something else, but it will always be around. Our advice is don't dump email just yet, as email usage reverts to what it was intended to be it will bring us to a new place where that send / receive button is a thing of freedom not frustration.

Do you think your company would ever dump email?

Please add your comments below.

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