Could email be on the verge of extinction?
Atos Origin's attempt to be email free within the next two years is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater and could be a complete disaster, according to social email provider harmon.ie.
Atos CEO and chair Thierry Breton said in February this year that he wants the firm to get rid of email altogether over the course of the next couple of years, saying email in the workplace is, "polluting our working environments and also encroaching into our personal lives. [So] we are taking action now to reverse this trend, just as organisations took measures to reduce environmental pollution after the industrial revolution."
But harmon.ie says Atos' plan to remove email from the workplace could be disastrous to business. Atos says that other forms of communication such as social tools and instant messaging could replace email, but harmon.ie VP David Lavenda said people don't like change.
"While early technology adopters readily embrace new social and collaboration tools, a recent Forrester Research study reports dismally low adoption rates among typical users, with only 3-4% of workers using microblogging technologies while 8-15% use social networks," Lavenda said.
Email is by far the most pervasive communication platform in organizations with over 95% usage according to Forrester Research, and harmon.ie says it is not going away any time soon.
When CBR asked Atos in March how it would communicate with partners or clients who still use email after Atos has dumped it, Rob Price, head of IT leadership at Atos Consulting said: "We will undoubtedly continue to receive email, but the intention is that there won't be email on every desk but a personalised portal that presents information in the right way for each individual. That might mean there is a translation from email."
Translating email into some other form of electronic text-based message still sounds a lot like electronic mail from where I'm standing, and harmon.ie agrees.
Harmon.ie's Lavenda noted that making staff abandon email, "just doesn't make sense for most people. Another problem with this strategy is introducing another tool for internal communications, while continuing to use email to communicate with the rest of the world - it's a total non-starter."
Instead of ditching email, Lavenda recommends using email as a starting point for enhancing work conditions and business performance. "Building social and collaboration capabilities into peoples' familiar tools and workflows is a great way of easing them into new technologies."
"Much as I respect the chief executive of Atos, email is not going to go away. It's not a trend, but an integral part of modern business communications. You simply cannot afford to remove it from the business toolset," he added. "Bottom line? Atos' problem doesn't stem from using email - it stems from the inefficient use of email as a communications medium. Make the process more efficient and you dramatically improve staff productivity - while they stay firmly within their comfort zone."
Related: Is this the end for email?
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