Thinking outside the inbox

8 February 2011
According to French IT firm Atos Origin, the tired old email is on its way out of business and set to be replaced by a younger, funkier way of communicating. Aka: social media. Speaking at an innovation conference yesterday, Atos Origin CEO Thierry Breton announced that it aims to become a zero e-mail company within three years. The rationale for the move is that email takes up too much time and effort in the workplace, whereas social media doesn’t. Now, okay, Atos Origin is an IT company, and as such it may well be planning on releasing a social media-based alternative to email. And in the meantime it’s already working on an alternative to emails sent internally between colleagues. Nevertheless, let’s explore the idea of zero email. An idea that the sceptic in me feels compelled to respond to. Information overload – the facts: Atos Origin: By 2013, more than half of all new digital content will be the result of updates to, and editing of existing information. Me: While some projects are suited to sharing and collaboration, some are not. Or put another way, no matter how informative and efficient Wikipedia is, there are always times when you need to reach for the Encyclopedia Britannica. Atos Origin: Online social networking is “now more popular than email and search”. Me: While that may be true, it’s not necessarily relevant. Videos of sneezing pandas are far more popular online than OJEU, but I can hardly see procurement professionals switching any time soon. Atos Origin: Middle managers spend more than 25 per cent of their time searching for information. Me: A large part of middle managers’ work requires information. Atos Origin: In 2010, corporate users received an average of 200 emails per day, 18 per cent of which is spam. Me: Say, just for argument’s sake, that the average email is 561 characters long, 200 emails would instead be 1,351 tweets a day. As for the spam, get better security blocks in place.
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