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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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:13AM (#38201008)

      And if - one day - there is a lawsuit about your work for the client, there is no proof what you did, what you told them or who authorized it...

      At least always send a later email describing what has happened in skype calls...

      • 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 dreemernj ( 859414 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:04AM (#38201508) Homepage Journal
        This is why so many legal organizations have strict e-mail policies. The law firms I've worked with have typically had rules stating emails cannot be saved for more than 18 days.
        • by PrimalChrome ( 186162 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:11AM (#38201612)

          How many 'legal organizations' do you work with, exactly? We have about 600 clients, many in the legal/financial markets. Most have retention policies requiring years of emails to be kept. I believe law requires some financial institutions to archive email for a number of years as well.

          "Why do they do this crazy thing?" asks the five minute attention span twitter generation of teens and twixties that have never held a full time job with any more responsibility than making sure that a coffee had extra cream. They do this to cover their asses. One email, a SINGLE email, can make the difference between a multi million dollar lawsuit or a lost account that pays your salary.

          • 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 datavirtue ( 1104259 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:09AM (#38201572)
        Besides, chat logs are not a legal and submittable in court. Email is well tested and has a traceable header.
      • 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 Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

        Au contraire.... Skype keeps a nice log of everything you type (no idea about the calls though)

        Ever wonder how your multiple clients always have the ability to see all messages, even if they were logged off for a bit, even if the one you were using was not set to logging and you chatted from it?

        It's the primary reason I don't use it. Well, that and the fact that it's an incredible POS software client that crashes unpredictably and causes issues with other applications wanting access to the camera/microphone

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by denpun ( 1607487 )

          Email is still highly useful - the problem these people have is no discipline in how to handle email - first, turn off all notifications. Second, only check a couple of times a day. Email is not instant, so don't treat it like it is. Do the same for IM. This removes the disruption of your daily tasks. If it's really important, someone will call....

          Ha....your right.....unfortunately people want email to be instant.......

          In most mid sized companies is used a lot for collaborating with each other....sending files....sending requests.....updates...etc.
          They send you an you 5 mins later...did you receive my email? Its urgent.......can you please do it now?
          Of course, if its someone important in the can't say...oh its not time to check my email I will get to it might actually be urgent....

        • by leonardluen ( 211265 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @11:13AM (#38202326)

          If it's really important, someone will call....

          damn i hate that! why the heck are you calling me? send me an email or IM! that is self documenting, and i can review it as often as i want to make sure i understood what you wrote, and can file it away in my TODO list so i don't forget.. With a call as soon as you hang up i can't go back and replay it. If someone calls me and asks me to do something the first thing i always ask is for them to send me an email or IM with the request.

          Also with phone they expect an immediate response, and so i have to interrupt what i am working on to respond to them. and all too often if they leave a voicemail it is just "please call me back" with no detail of what they had wanted and so now i have more wasted time calling them back and half the time they aren't there so i have to leave a voicemail "i called you back, but you weren't there, what was it you wanted?". this would all have been solved by a simple email to begin with!

      • Everything that transacts (email, POTS/VOIP, twit/text ...) between people, using a PKI/personal certificate and bio-login, on any network can be proof of participation and responsibility. The network owner would be responsible (potential failure point) for assuring PKI/personal certificate and bio-login forensics for legal purposes.

        Voice files with meta-tags are highly compressible. Voice to text transcriptions are possible. Voice recognition would mitigate video (not eliminate) forensics requirements.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Ah but those people who say one thing and then never do it. With having it in the written word, you have proof especially when there is a dead line for a project. I agree, there is alot lost in email and even texting that is there in a "face to face" but I think they all have uses.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

        Ah but those people who say one thing and then never do it.

        Describes almost anyone in a large corporation. No wonder they want to get rid of email.

      • 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 Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:20AM (#38201082) Homepage

      ICQ? Wow, I think we just had a post arrive through a wormhole from the 1990s.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:21AM (#38201098)

      When it comes to useful communication, talking is usually one of the most inefficient and ineffective ways to get real work done. Whatever slight advantage might come from the realtime aspect of it is immediately lost several times over due to the lack of any history being retained. This makes it far more difficult to refer back to it later, to share it with others, and to search through large volumes of it.

      In most businesses, those people doing the real bulk of the work tend to prefer written communication. It's just a far more efficient way to work. In turn, those who prefer verbal communication are usually those who do the least real work. They're the ones who sit in meetings or phone calls all day "planning" or "discussing strategy" or otherwise not doing anything useful.

      • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:48AM (#38201370) Homepage Journal

        When it comes to useful communication, talking is usually one of the most inefficient and ineffective ways to get real work done. Whatever slight advantage might come from the realtime aspect of it is immediately lost several times over due to the lack of any history being retained.

        Also because most real time talk is chit-chat, and not getting the exact point across. Because it's not about being exact, it's about being liked.
        I don't give a rodent's excretory orifice whether a vendor likes me or not. I care about the quotes he sends being well documented, and what promises he makes in writing. No, I will not call him even if he asks for the tenth time. I will send him an e-mail, and expect the same back.

        • by eepok ( 545733 )


          If I send you an email, please respond via email. It's not that hard. I thought that was implied. If you don't respond by email, then I have to assume you can't form coherent sentences and want me to figure out what you *want* to say through all your babel or you just want to say something without being able to be quoted.

      • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:03AM (#38201490)

        Then there is the not so obvious advantages to written communication:

        1. Most people will proof what they just write. If they are any good at all, they will end up revising it for greater clarity and accuracy.
        2. Most people will copy their managers, colleagues, an d/or subordinates when the information is necessary for the team to complete the job.
        3. The information is readily available in the future for reference or revision.
        4. As the AC mentioned, you can use it to later see what you did right and what you did wrong.

        Of course there is the whole CYA aspect too.

      • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

        Another disadvantage of the instant aspect, is the intrusiveness of it...

        If you send me an email, that email will sit there patiently waiting for me until i have the time to look at it...

        On the other hand, if you call me on the phone you are demanding that my attention immediately be taken away from whatever i might already be doing, and diverted to you.

        IM sits somewhere between, in that you *can* ignore the messages and get to them later, but many people become irritable when you don't respond quickly.

        I wo

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      I see the opposite. WE suggest skype, twitter, etc. and they all want Email only instead. Hell some still ask for a Fax number and we have not had one in years.

      But then we deal with scientific companies and really really rich people so it's probably a different demographic than you have.

    • 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 gaspyy ( 514539 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:27AM (#38201156)

      The reasons I prefer email for business are:
      - it forces people to organize ideas somewhat instead of babbling around.
      - it leaves a trail. There's no argument that someone requested X instead of Y for product Z.
      - it can be forwarded, shared and printed.

      I have clients that insist on using Skype. They spend 30-40 minutes discussing stuff that could be summarized in an one-paragraph email. During all the talk I have to keep notes, then organize the items discussed and make a doc that I send back to the client asking if they're sure this is what they wanted and then share it with my team. Overall I don't save time.

      I can't speak for anybody else, but for ME email is still the preferred business communication tool.

      • Not only that, but you can't physically talk to three different people at the same time.

        I can deal with multiple emails at once. Trying to hold 3 or 4 phone calls at once would turn into a episode of Saved by the Bell.

    • by mschaffer ( 97223 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:27AM (#38201158)

      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.

      • 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 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 Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:11PM (#38204606)
          I have no kids of my own, but I have nephews. The oldest is in college at a good quality state university. I had a conversation with him not terribly long ago and it went something like this:
          Me: I saw you wrote "prolly" on Facebook. You do know that that is not a real word, right?
          Him: What do you mean?
          Me: "Prolly" is text message speak. The real word is "probably".
          Him: (look of puzzlement and confusion)
          Me: I'm not joking. You've never heard of "probably"?
          Him: I've only seen "prolly".

          When you graduate from an American high school and you are a reasonably intelligent person (he's got a B average at college) and you think "prolly" is a real word and you don't know what "probably" is, the educational system may just be broke beyond fixing.
      • We are reaping the latest crop that was sown by modern education.

        To be fair, I'm not sure how effectively any educational system could cope with the level of distraction that kids face these days. The development of basic skills - reading, writing, math - requires significant time in practice and drills, and at any given time they have access to gadgets that are much more compelling time sinks.

    • "you get instant answer and can actually discuss things in real time." ....and that is the problem. I don't have time to answer everything in real time. You think I spend a bunch of time on email, wait till I have my face in a damn chat client all day. I keep my wife handy (actually it is the other way around) on a chat client and she can quickly monopolize my time---that is one person. Email is great because I can give well thought out concise, yet complete answers which facilitate PROPER communication and
    • It depends on what kind of job you have. If your primary duty is dealing with people, real-time contact makes sense. If you are a developer, an engineer, an architect, or anyone else whose job requires concentration, real-time interruptions are a work-killer. Of course, the PHBs of the world generally do not understand this.

      Personally, I have 2-3 work-related phone calls per month. Everything else goes by email or a non-interactive web-service.

      That said, there is indeed far too much internal email. If someo

  • by Jack Malmostoso ( 899729 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:11AM (#38200994)

    I agree that most emails are useless (starting from those which are sent just FYI, but are still distracting and interrupting the workflow).
    However, if there is one thing I learnt by working in a megacorporation, is that _everything_ has to be in writing at some point.
    So many times a colleague or supplier will say "sure, we'll do that no problem" and then weeks go by, without anyone remembering.
    For accountability, email is still the way to go.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by skovnymfe ( 1671822 )
      Discuss things in real-time using but get confirmation in writing.
    • by icebrain ( 944107 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:20AM (#38201076)

      Email is still king where I work.

      -It's asynchronous, so you can still get information to people who are away from their desks, out sick, working different hours, etc. Phone calls and the internal IM system are used for informal or urgent things, but email still gets sent as a followup for anything important.

      -It's handy for reference, since you can go back and look later.

      -It's a great CYA tool, so when your boss walks up and says "why the hell did you do it that way?!" you can respond with "because you told me to" and back that up with proof. You can also use it to show that you made repeated efforts to get information and were ignored.

      -It's a hell of a lot more professional than facebook.

      Of course, I work in a compliance-driven industry that is conservative by nature (aerospace).

      • by fearofcarpet ( 654438 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:53AM (#38201412)

        -It's asynchronous, so you can still get information to people who are away from their desks, out sick, working different hours, etc.

        For those of us who manage other people and whose productivity is directly proportional to the amount of uninterrupted concentration we are afforded for a particular task (which is usually to produce a document), email is a necessity. It drives me up the wall when someone (usually an older secretary) calls my office phone with some non-urgent question that could easily have been put in email form; if you are going to interrupt me, at least have the decency to come to my office in person. In fact, we had a meeting the other day to discuss whether or not office phones were necessary anymore.

        I would add to the list that email can follow you when you travel. I can easily sit on a plane/train (in a "Silence" car) and answer emails offline on my laptop or discreetly fire off a reply from my phone when I'm sitting in a boring seminar. There is simply no way that chat/MMS/Skype/whatever will work in those situations. And as others have mentioned, complex thoughts/arguments are often better summarized in an email because you can gather your thoughts, proof-read your email, and then send a carbon-copy of that carefully worded text to all parties involved.

    • by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:20AM (#38201078)

      I agree that most emails are useless (starting from those which are sent just FYI, but are still distracting and interrupting the workflow).

      The beauty of e-mail is that the social contract of e-mail allows you to ignore it for longer than a real-time chat. If you want to hold an IM-like conversation in e-mail, most systems are fast enough to support that, but if you've got something you're in the middle of, e-mail doesn't demand instant attention the way a phonecall or chat session does.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        a chat session demands no time from me. I ignore them over emails.

        Priority is , walk to my office, call me, email me, any of the other useless communication channels.

        Absolute bottom is SMS message my phone. I will ignore you for 7 days if you SMS me.

    • Indeed. If it isn't written, it didn't happen.
    • by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:24AM (#38201140)

      I agree that most emails are useless (starting from those which are sent just FYI, but are still distracting and interrupting the workflow).

      If emails are "distracting and interrupting the workflow" then you are doing it wrong. The problem isn't email, it's the way people deal with it.
      Get away from the mindset that you have to immediately read and deal with every email the instant it arrives and you'll get a lot more work done.

      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.

      There's a good idea. Let's run our business like a bunch of 11 year-olds. Sorry, but the only people who have no use for email are people who have no job and nothing worthwhile to say or do (i.e., your typical 11-19 year old)

      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."

      Right. Nothing wrong with a crowd of people hanging around outside his office waiting to speak with him directly, rather than just send an email that he can read when he wants. And at the same time there's a few dozen people trying to call him on the phone. Sounds like a wonderful idea. I'm sure this will work out great.

      • I bet Breton's PA has sent emails on his behalf over teh past 3 years - I know my own director rarely clicks the send button himself.
      • by Idarubicin ( 579475 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @12:07PM (#38202968) Journal

        Right. Nothing wrong with a crowd of people hanging around outside his office waiting to speak with him directly, rather than just send an email that he can read when he wants. And at the same time there's a few dozen people trying to call him on the phone. Sounds like a wonderful idea. I'm sure this will work out great.

        Spot on, though I wonder if the problem is a little more subtle. Breton is the CEO, so if he wants to have an instant messaging chat, telephone conversation, or video conference with anyone in the company, then of course that person is going to be available and giving whatever the CEO wants to talk about a top priority. Of course it's faster and more effective for him than email, because when the CEO calls, the employees drop everything else.

        For everyone else in the company, calls will get screened to voicemail, IM clients will display "AFK", and coworkers whose desks are more than twenty feet apart will spend days trying to find mutually agreeable times in which to schedule their video chats. People who didn't know how to manage their email before won't be any more effective at managing their work or their time after; they'll just spend all day on the phone instead.

    • The nice thing about email is I can ignore it until I have time to deal with it, instead of constantly being interrupted by inane questions.

      The other nice thing about email is there is a trail of the conversation I can use to say "No, you said this" and forward them a copy when they change their mind about something and claim I "misunderstood" them, which has saved my butt more than once on bad specs.

      It's also pretty much impossible to get everyone online with a chat-type system at the same time, but e

  • That is insane! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:12AM (#38201004)

    I work IT and my company could not survive without email. All of our orders from customers and orders to vendors go through email. We have to attach PDF and word documents too. How am I going to do that with text messaging? Email is the most useful and important IT function we have.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CoolCash ( 528004 )
      Your company could implement a centralized application to store and manage these documents, basecamp, sharepoint, etc. If you just send them via email, the customer/vendor doesn't have a easy central location to search and retrieve information. What if someone leaves one of the companies? Then you have to resend the emails, or their IT dept needs to consolidate email accounts and access. This way, the new employee gets a login and automatically gets all the invoices and documents. Notifications can be autom
  • by djsmiley ( 752149 ) <> on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:14AM (#38201016) Homepage Journal

    It stops all those pesky logs and evidence of such things ;)

  • They send me and email, and it turns up on my phone!

    TADA! Supprise!

  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:16AM (#38201034)

    "Sir, people are using our communication tool for unproductive social activities."

    "Quickly, build an internal system which is modelled after even less productive, more overtly social software."

  • Email is vital (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Crookdotter ( 1297179 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:17AM (#38201050)
    This whole IM thing is no different than a phone call. Some communication requires careful thought and so is best written down so you can think about a response. Email is the perfect medium for such communication. Facebook is a general post to anyone who might read it. When you need a private, considered opinion, email is the way. Or am I now too old to 'get' facebook or twitter? They both seem pointless to me. In fact, moving your employees towards them would seem to be a drain on productivity if nothing else.
  • by LizardKing ( 5245 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:18AM (#38201060)
    This would be the CTO of a company renowned (in the UK at least) for its involvement in a huge number of abortive public sector IT projects. I very much doubt that Breton has much input into those projects though, as Atos is a huge company. He probably does what most executives of his calibre do, and attend pointless senior managment meetings, generally in nice locations with dinner and drink laid on. That's when he isn't schmoozing for more work, a task that generally involves more dinner and drink, all paid for out of the company kitty.
  • by mschaffer ( 97223 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:19AM (#38201066)

    The spoken word will not replace the written word.
    Also, some of us have more to say than 128 characters at a time.

  • by LighterShadeOfBlack ( 1011407 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:19AM (#38201074) Homepage

    So people are receiving lots of emails, of which 90% are useless, and this guy decides the solution is to switch from emails to 'chat-type' services. So now you've got lots of chat messages, of which 90% are useless. Problem solved?

    • by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:31AM (#38201206)

      It's not only that. Those people think their messages are important, or they wouldn't be sending them. They now have to find some other way to get the word out. And they WILL find a way, no matter how annoying or painful it is to others.

      They should be looking to fix the problem, not the symptoms.

    • by chrb ( 1083577 )

      They aren't the same. The psychological barrier to sending an email is lower. With an instant chat, there is a realisation that you are going to interrupt someone, and in effect force them to pay attention to you. With email, the sender rarely considers the imposition that receiving the email time will have on the recipient. People think nothing of forwarding around joke emails, some people several per day, cc'd to most of their co-workers, and yet the same person is unlikely to start a group chat, invite a

  • Email is consistent and can be secured. IM, twitter, facebook, skype all require remote accounts. This sounds like another spoiled boss that doesn't know shit about security.

  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Zaldarr ( 2469168 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:24AM (#38201132) Homepage
    No more lolcats in my inbox? I has a sad.
  • Email haters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bitsy Boffin ( 110334 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:24AM (#38201138) Homepage

    I work almost entirely in email. I hate talking on phones. I hate ringing people. I hate being called.

    The phone is so intrusive, it's like the person doing the calling has no care about what the person being called is doing, they think they are the most important thing ever and you should be sitting there just waiting for their call. Telephoning somebody, to me, is like walking up and interrupting the other party when they are in a conversation with somebody else.

    Email by contrast is fundamentally polite and efficient, you send the message and when it is convenient for the other end, they reply.

    The same problems that phones have also apply to other forms of "instant" messaging.

    Most people have no trouble working over email, the few who do I generally find either have some disability (dyslexia), or are just plain demanding and really do believe that they are the most important person and can't understand why you won't spend hour upon hour on the phone listening to their inane drivel (and woe betide you should bill them for it).

  • by ( 660144 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:26AM (#38201154) Homepage

    So longs as their chat server supports: retention, filing/tagging, search, prioritization, attachments, read/unread, synchronous, asynchronous, out-of-office, calendar integration, 'invisible' status, multi-device access, forwarding, delegation, filtering rules, spam blockers, mailing lists with digests, and a couple of dozen more vital features then it will be a great leap forward.

    SMTP may be a bit of a silly protocol for an untrusted network but internally it is near perfect. Anyway chucking IMAP and all the rest of our email infrastructure out with the bathwater is just silly.

  • by CountBrass ( 590228 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:27AM (#38201162)

    Should I also lose all of my social skills, stop bathing and whine about how my parents don't understand me.

    The youth unemployment rate is at an all time high wheras the unemployment rate for my, email using, demographic is still nice and low.

    I'll pass on job related advice from them, or the head of 3rd tier IT company, thanks very much.

  • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:30AM (#38201192) Homepage

    I understand why IM / Skype are preferred, and I do the same with my coworkers, but not every communication needs to be real-time. When email and IM are both available, email becomes a "when you have a moment" queue, while IM is "Right Fucking Now (tm)". If someone sends me an email, I'll quickly scan it, maybe flag it on a to-do list, and deal with it when I'm idle or bored.

    My expected response times:

    Email: 24hrs
    IM: 10 mins
    Phone: immediate (duh)

    The best way to get me to yell at someone, is to mis-prioritize something. Email me a work order, then call 5 minutes later asking why it hasn't been done: yelling. Call me to post an event on the site that's 3 months away, which details you have yet to finalize: yelling. Text me from McBurgerWay to ask if I want anything: yelling.

    All three channels have their pros and cons, and should be used appropriately. To completely shun one or two of them, to me at least, seems incredibly foolish and even ignorant.

  • 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.

  • ...that it is a record of responsibilities and commitments; especially in a corporate environment.

    An example is a company I used to be involved with was purchased by "very large corporation." The people in this "very large corporation" had a MUCH different work ethic than the people in our Company. They ducked responsibility like it was a fresh dose of bubonic plague. They weaseled, they professed ignorance, they tried the 'plausible deniability' route, they tried everything. Once they realized that I kept every interoffice e-mail permanently and I wielded these as a weapon against their insipid mediocrity (a superlative they don't deserve) - two things happened. Our meetings became less about "what? I thought you were heading that up?" and more about "here's our current update..." The other thing that happened is that people tried to avoid responding to my e-mails that pinned them to accepting or rejecting their responsibilities, LOL.

    Thank goodness I don't have to work there anymore.

    Oh, and yes, it was a European Company that bought us.

  • 10 per cent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @09:50AM (#38201388)

    staff spend between 5-20 hours handling emails every week.

    Man, so how many hours will they spend if they are on Facebook and Twitter trying to accomplish the same thing?

    only 10 per cent of the 200 electronic messages his employees receive per day on average turn out to be useful,

    10 per cent is an awesomely high signal to noise ratio in Facebook and Twitter.

  • I love email (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vawwyakr ( 1992390 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:04AM (#38201514)
    I guess maybe I'm old now? But I love the asymmetric nature of the communication, sometime I don't want to talk to you RIGHT NOW but I do need to start or get back to a conversation about something. I also love the ability to store and catalog email threads its useful sometime months later to go back and say on June 12th you me and Bob all agreed to create this page with these features, and here is you saying you liked the idea.
  • by drdaz ( 994457 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:10AM (#38201600)

    The problem is the culture. The fact that there is a poor signal to noise ratio in employee communications is unlikely to be remedied by simply swapping medium... The garbage will just come through the new channel. The situation will only improve if people begin thinking about what is necessary to communicate, rather than spamming every thought that comes into their mind.

    Of course, banning *all* forms of electronic, textual communication might help this... but it doesn't seem (from the summary at least) that this is what's being suggested.

  • by grimmjeeper ( 2301232 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @10:42AM (#38201928) Homepage

    So, I've gone to great lengths to craft mail filters to sort my incoming deluge of company email. I know the offenders who send me volumes of useless junk. I've got filters for all of the distribution mail that comes out of every level of the company. I know that once caught by the filters and diverted to one of many folders, I can spend little to no time actually reading the contents of the folder because there's little to nothing that's actually useful in those emails so going through the list once a day (or less) is a short task. The few internal emails that end up actually landing in my inbox tend to be useful and contain information that I actually need to process. But since there are so few of them I can devote time to processing them.

    This is a great system. I end up getting very few interruptions during my day. I can concentrate on my work and get into the zone while I'm digging through my software and I can get something done.

    But this guy wants to take away email and replace it with instant messaging and other intrusive communications services that demand my attention whenever some boffin decides to tell the world that he's updated some tool that I never use? Great. Now I have to deal with that crap that I've carefully figured out how to ignore. Instead of having a system that lets me address communication when I have time to do so, I have to now use a system that interrupts me whenever anything is being sent to me, whether the message is important or not. Instead of being able to focus on getting work done, I have to deal with a constant stream of interruptions. Good luck trying to focus on anything when your messenger is constantly pecking at you for attention on an irregular basis.

    I suppose it's possible to configure messengers to filter and limit interruptions. But then if you filter the incoming messages so you can go back and read them when you have the time, you may as well just use email since that's better at that style of communication.

    The switch to alternate forms of communication doesn't solve the underlying problem that far too many people spam out far too much useless information. My solution to the information overload problem in email is to first get rid of distribution lists and limit the number of recipients for a single email to a very small number. Say 20 people or less. If you need to send information to more people than that, come up with an internal web site where you can post distribution information that people can go read when they feel like reading it. Despite assertions to the contrary, there is almost no need to spam large groups with distribution email.

    If you do that, you'll find that information overload will be significantly reduced overnight. Those organizational announcements and IT bulletins that nobody reads won't be filling up everyone's inboxes. The release announcements from the tools group that no one really cares about won't clutter up your inbox. The self important idiot who wants to tell the world about his 3rd quarter financials won't be able to bother people who don't care. The idiot who feels the need to post that he published something on the website won't be able to bother you. End distribution lists and you kill a large contributor to information overload.

  • by eulernet ( 1132389 ) on Tuesday November 29, 2011 @02:46PM (#38205088)

    In France, Thierry Breton is renowned for using a magnificent idea as management: Total Operational Performance, or TOP.
    This is Lean management applied to people.
    The idea is very simple: we manage people as resources, and if they are unused, they are reallocated elsewhere, or simply discarded.
    Result of this brilliant idea: around 15 suicides last year, and more than 60 suicides since he applied his idea.

    TOP is so bad that it succeeded in instilling fear in all french companies, which don't want to listen about Lean !
    Lean is very successful in automobile industries, too bad for Peugeot and Renault.

    Now, he's trying to apply it in Atos: []
    (in french)
    and a lot of people of Atos are very afraid.

    Replacing emails by Facebook ? Another brilliant idea !
    It's obvious that they will save a lot of time.
    And directly speaking with people is so much more productive.

The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.