Atos Origin, a 49,000-person IT services firm based outside Paris, is boldly going where no company—IT or otherwise—has gone before. CEO Thierry Breton plans to eliminate internal email by this time in 2014.
According to Computerworld UK, Breton aims to become a “zero email company” to conquer the information pollution that bogs down management and costs the company dearly:
Breton said information pollution, or data overload, needed to be addressed by companies. “We are producing data on a massive scale that is fast polluting our working environments and also encroaching into our personal lives.”
He added: “We are taking action now to reverse this trend, just as organisations took measures to reduce environmental pollution after the industrial revolution.”
Breton said the volume of emails Atos sent and received was “unsustainable for business”. He said managers currently spent between five and 20 hours a week reading and writing emails. They were already using social media networking more than search, and spent 25 percent of their time searching for information.
More from Breton: “Email is on the way out as the best way to run a company and do business.”
What will replace it at Atos Origin? The latest in social media and collaboration tools such as Office Communicator (and presumably others to be identified or created). Nathan Zeldes, president of the Information Overload Research Group, is convinced that Atos Origin will pull this off. He contends in his latest newsletter that Breton’s clout as CEO will provide the impetus, and the company’s staff will find ways to make it happen. [Nathan’s newsletter differs from his blog and is well worth reading. You can subscribe to it here.]
I’m not so sure. Atos Origin will still need email to connect with the “outside world” (at least until everyone else gets on the zero email bus). In addition, email as we know it is evolving rapidly—becoming more social and integrated with other technologies. It will almost certainly become more efficient and less of a productivity drain within three years—at least at companies willing to make the change.
One of the companies moving us in that direction is Blue Sky Factory. CEO Greg Cangialosi says “the inbox is being reinvented and is becoming the platform.” He also says email is not going to go away: “The email address is still the way we identify and connect . . . Other communities will never replace the platform role that our inbox serves.” [Read more at Baltimore’s CityBizList.]