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Europe's Largest IT Company To Ban Internal Email 601

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Thierry Breton, CEO of Atos, Europe's Largest IT Company, wants a 'zero email' policy to be in place in 18 months, arguing that only 10 per cent of the 200 electronic messages his employees receive per day on average turn out to be useful, and that staff spend between 5-20 hours handling emails every week. 'The email is no longer the appropriate (communication) tool,' says Breton. 'The deluge of information will be one of the most important problems a company will have to face (in the future). It is time to think differently.' Instead Breton wants staff at Atos to use chat-type collaborative services inspired by social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter as surveys show that the younger generation have already all but scrapped email, with only 11 per cent of 11 to 19 year-olds using it. For his part Breton hasn't sent a work email in three years. 'If people want to talk to me, they can come and visit me, call or send me a text message. Emails cannot replace the spoken word.'"
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Europe's Largest IT Company To Ban Internal Email

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  • by CmdrPony ( 2505686 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:08AM (#38200966)
    No one wants to use email anymore. When I talk with clients, one of the first things they ask for is do I have Skype, ICQ or MSN. For business stuff, Skype is the clear winner. I talk with clients and managers there. It has a clear advantage too, as you get instant answer and can actually discuss things in real time. Everything goes easier that way.

    For friends and personal things, it's also only Facebook, Steam and MSN for me. It would feel weird to send email to them, and they probably wouldn't read it anyway. Email is kind of like sending a letter, but in this case it also loses its charm and personal feel. It might been relevant still up to 2005, but now it's all the way Facebook, IM or you know, actually calling someone. I can't say I really miss email either. I still have to use one to receive registration verifications and or some news and stuff like that, but there's nothing personal in email anymore.
  • by CmdrPony ( 2505686 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:17AM (#38201048)
    Skype is not only for calls, I mainly use it for text chats (which can be logged). Only time I've used Skype for calling has been to my past girlfriend in other side of the world, so I don't have pay so much. But yes, orders and similar would still be good to handle in email or in some other way, where you have the exact order in one package.
  • by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:25AM (#38201148)
    I would have hoped by now that people would realize that tying your communications into a proprietary technology is an exceptionally bad medium to long term decision. At least email is an open standard. If we could get people using open chat protocols that would be fine, but locking ourselves into Facebook, Skype, and MSN is not likely going to end well. I would hope that it ends like AOL did, but people seem to have forgotten about the disadvantages of proprietary walled gardens.
  • by jotaeleemeese ( 303437 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:36AM (#38201240) Homepage Journal

    I have always wondered why more companies don't use Slashdot own software.

    Most email that appears to be useless appears so because it is difficult to follow complex issues in a non threaded medium.

    Once a discussion becomes threaded it is much simpler to get clarification to the right question at the right moment (and you don't get tons of email with replies that you don't really need to read).

    Another means is to have an internal news website, where important announcements are posted and a short reminder or summary about the days topics are sent, instead of sending one message per announcement.

    As for people using email as their main tool for monitoring systems, they have my full and undivided contempt.

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:36AM (#38201246)

    This is so sad. It's a symptom of a much greater problem: We are reaping the latest crop that was sown by modern education. The little Johnys and Janes are barely literate. Composing even the simplest prose (to answer an email or any other written communication) just takes too long for the average person entering the workforce today.

    You might be right about this. My daughter got a temp job as an admin assistant while she studies. They asked applicants to respond to a fictitious email, then write a reply to a letter using MS word. Evidently that brought the number of applicants going into an actual interview down from twenty to three...

  • by bfwebster ( 90513 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:10AM (#38201580) Homepage

    Actually, this cuts both ways. As someone who has acted as an expert witness in a number of lawsuits, I usually want to see the time-sorted e-mail record where relevant, particularly if there are software developers or engineers involved (since they tend to be more, ah, blunt in their statements). I've seen large cases end up settling unfavorably for one side because of a dozen or so internal e-mails that its personnel had written (one I recall said something to the effect of "Why are we charging our client [a large specific sum of money] and delivering them garbage?").

    But I fully agree with you as well: document, document, document, whether by e-mail, memo, or letter. If your firm (particularly if you're a software developer/vendor) has never been involved in a lawsuit, there is a tendency to tell yourself, "We'll make this work out; we want to keep the customer happy; we're all grown-ups here," and so rely on verbal assurances or concessions. Then when a lawsuit happens, you have no documentation -- just he-said/she-said testimony -- as to why (and how) the scope changed or the project went over-schedule/over-budget or why certain IP was used or shared or when certain key inventions were developed. ..bruce..

  • by ( 447981 ) <> on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:33AM (#38201808) Homepage
    I think the main problem here is that at least a s significant subset of the suits (and probably other non-techies) tend to think of Microsoft Exchange and its obnoxious client as the only way to handle email. Keep in mind that the main design smells appointment book not messaging. My longish rant on the topic can be found at [] , enjoy!

    - Peter

  • by datavirtue ( 1104259 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:33AM (#38201810)
    Agreed, I work with a LOT of modern students from ages 17 to 75. Most of them, the younger ones, HATE writing and reading anything. Mainly because it takes them soooo long to do it and requires so much effort. I love writing my college papers because I have read hundreds of books and therefore know how to write and further enjoy it. It is nothing for me to write a report running on for seven pages that is concise and well formed with unique content, for the average student that is like asking for a couple of their finger nails and they subsequently quote dump, plagiarize and "bullshit" their way through it. Drum roll......they still get good grades for the junk they hand in, so they think they are doing a good job. If they later attend a good university they wonder why their English professor keeps handing their papers back to them with "rewrite" at the top. At lesser universities they continue along the lines of the community college and high-schools to keep collecting tuition, simple as that.
  • by dreemernj ( 859414 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:38AM (#38201882) Homepage Journal
    Right now, 23 law firms and 4 legal departments at telecoms. Most of them on the east coast with a few stragglers in California. Of those 27, 25 do not retain e-mail more than 1 month. It is tough for me because I have 6 years worth of e-mail and work around this huge searchable database of communication that I keep.

    How many of the 600 are in the legal market? How many have policies that require emails be kept for years? I am curious because it is such a big deal to the ones I work with that they can't be kept that it seems bizarre that you would know of tons of similar organizations that have to keep them.
  • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:44AM (#38201976)
    That's not true at ALL, FRCP makes zero distinction between the media of communications, all relevant records need to be turned over. Likewise the SEC has required that all financial communications between traders and clients be kept no matter the media so financial institutions must not allow chat programs unless they go through a logging proxy.
  • by dreemernj ( 859414 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:45AM (#38201996) Homepage Journal
    I don't really know. I am not a lawyer, I just happen to work with a lot of lawyers. I believe if they have something that they need to keep, they print it and file it. I have only asked a couple of lawyers about it because I'm not exactly buddy buddy with the partners making the decisions, but the ones that chatted with me said they keep what is important in a way they are used to keeping things. They don't like the idea that they could be keeping something in a server that they themselves can't go and look at if they have to and that the IT department has total access to.
  • by Will.Woodhull ( 1038600 ) <> on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:58AM (#38202156) Homepage Journal

    So the corporation in TFA is adopting a no email policy in favor of tweets and the like. Doing this because of documented "lost" time spent on email.

    Sounds like a trade-off between between the documented time lost to managing emails and the impossible to measure productivity lost to the "But you said... No I did not..." arguments. Note that wrt those arguments, the hit to productivity is not just in the arguing, but also the losses incurred in correcting the mistakes.

    I know I have been a pain in the butt to some managers when I have told them on the phone "hey, send me an email so I know exactly what you want done." Usually I did that not because I thought they were corrupt or were wanting to hang me out to twist in the wind, but because they were too lazy to think things through unless they were forced to by the archival nature of email.

  • by CmdrPony ( 2505686 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @12:06PM (#38202964)
    That's pretty much how it was for me too. I was traveling anyway, and monthly changed to different countries in Asia, back and forth. It just made sense to have girlfriends in every country. I didn't have to find hotel or place to stay either - they would come get me from airport and even let me stay at their place.
  • by DrVomact ( 726065 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @07:13PM (#38208396) Journal

    I've always saved e-mails (except those with jokes, or large attachments), and several times I've been able to dig up an e-mail to prove to my boss that I had already told him something. At least one even an e-mail a couple of years ago. is a great CYA.

    Yes, I always made copies of all CYA-relevant email on a USB stick and took it home. Never know when you might need something like that. Even though my boss rarely, if ever, read my email (emails from other managers or his boss had a far higher priority than mine; besides, my writing was too complicated for him), these emails I sent him served to document that I was doing what he told me to, or had questions about his directives. (Didn't help: they moved my job to Malaysia, and declared me redundant. So the Doctor is now unemployed, and will likely remain so, due to his advanced age.)

    I prefer email, at work, for most everything, due to being able to do it in batch mode. I can work....and when taking a break, then I go through emails.

    This way, my concentration isn't being broken every few minutes by and IM coming in....or whatever when someone is trying to get you THEN.

    I only generally use the phone if contact and action is urgent.....but email is nice for keeping records of conversations, as well as communicating in an asynchronous batch mode.

    I agree completely. I don't understand why being interrupted every 30 seconds by someone who wants to ask you a question or give you something new to do is a great thing. Not if they want you concentrate on your work. Hmm. Perhaps that explains why managers would love messaging: nothing they do requires concentrated thinking.

    What I have always loved about email is—as you pointed out—that it is asynchronous; you don't have to answer right away. Yet, it is still far quicker and less effort than sending paper mail. You can set email aside, and handle it when you are between tasks. You can't do that with telephone calls or IMs. Of course, emails also require that you set down your thoughts in an ordered manner, and adhere to grammatical and orthographic conventions reasonably well. Here in the U.S., the ability to do that is becoming increasingly rare. Only a minority of people know how to write in complete sentences, much less how to organize their thoughts using paragraph structure. Maybe literacy is out-dated in this social networking world...but the more I see of the future, the less I like it. Alas, the world makes ever less sense to the Doctor as time passes.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger