A giant French firm has said it will ban the use of email systems for internal messages within two years
French IT services giant Atos Origin is taking a highly unusual step after it announced plans to ban the use of email for internal office communications.
The reason Atos says is that the current volume of email is “unsustainable,” and consequently it will stop using internal email for company communications within two years.
In its place, Atos intends its staff to communicate via instant messaging (IM), social community platforms and collaboration tools.
The French firm first announced the plans to ban internal email back in February this year. At that time, Chairman and CEO Thierry Breton said that the reason for the move was because of information overload.
“We are producing data on a massive scale that is fast polluting our working environments and also encroaching into our personal lives,” said Breton. “At Atos Origin we are taking action now to reverse this trend, just as organisations took measures to reduce environmental pollution after the industrial revolution.”
“The volume of emails we send and receive is unsustainable for business,” he stated. “Managers spend between 5 and 20 hours a week reading and writing emails. They are already using social media networking more than search, and spend 25 percent of their time searching for information.”
The Atos thoughts on information overload reflects a study last year, when workers across the planet admitting to being overwhelmed by the voracious volume of work-related information via email and other information collection systems. The LexisNexis study also found that 62 percent of workers said that the quality of their work suffered as a result.
Atos meanwhile said that by 2013, more than half of all new digital content will be the result of updates to, and editing of existing information. It also highlighted the fact that online social networking is now more popular than email and search, and that in 2010 corporate users received some 200 mails per day, 18 percent of which were spam.
Breton described how Atos has set up collaboration tools and social community platforms, to share and keep track of ideas on subjects.
“Businesses need to do more of this – email is on the way out as the best way to run a company and do business,” he said.
He went to explain how the move is part of Atos campaign to ensuring well being at work and to bridge the “social business” gap. Breton said that collaborative technology provides a more personal, more immediate and importantly more cost effective means to manage and share information.
The company said it is encouraging the use of tools such as Office Communicator and has set up social community platforms to share and keep track of ideas on subjects from innovation and Lean Management through to sales.
“Initial feedback is that these types of tools reduce email by between 10 and 20% immediately,” he said.
Earlier this month HP revealed that by 2020, fifty zettabytes (fifty billion terrabytes) of data will be created every year, presenting a major challenge for businesses.
Yet an eWEEK Europe poll in the summer revealed that readers regard email as just as important as voice on smartphones, with texting and web news-gathering following closely behind.
In the end, the Atos strategy to tackle the growth of unstructured data and indeed information overload is an interesting one. Whether other firms will follow suit and drop their email systems remains to be seen.