At world's top IT fair, firms mull death of email

Mar 07, 2013 by Marie Julien
Photo illustration of a woman using email. At the CeBIT, the world's biggest high-tech fair, in the northern German city of Hanover, some firms are considering doing away with email.

At the CeBIT in Germany, the world's biggest high-tech fair, some firms say they are looking at doing away with email to increase productivity.

Studies show that workers spend nearly a third of their day sorting through emails, prompting some companies to think again.

The French firm Atos, for example, plans to shift its internal communications onto a Facebook-style social by 2014.

Displaying its "Zero Email" system in Hanover, Atos, led by former French finance minister Thierry Breton, has said it wants to rid society of emails.

Breton has even compared the project to "reducing environmental pollution after the ".

Atos project leader Robert Shaw told AFP the firm was "on track in moving our organisation towards a collaborative work environment not based on emails by 2014."

There are "already more than 20,000 staff" on the internal "BlueKiwi" system, explained Shaw.

The most committed ones "do not use internal emails any more, since they collaborate together and get their work done in a more enjoyable and effective way," he added.

AILA, or Artificial Intelligence Lightweight Android, presses switches at the CeBIT technology trade fair on March 5, 2013 in Germany. CeBIT is the world's biggest high-tech fair.

Atos believes that by changing the way staff communicate with each other internally, a firm's productivity could be boosted by as much as 20 percent.

This chimes with a study carried out by the US consulting firm McKinsey which showed that the average office worker spent around 28 percent of their time reading, writing and sorting tens or hundreds of emails each day.

Atos is not the only firm trying to deal with what many regard as the plague of emails.

Lanvin, Deloitte and Intel have all tried to instigate "email-free days".

Some individuals have taken it upon themselves to do away with the flood of electronic messages, like Luis Suarez, in charge of promoting "business 2.0" at US computing giant IBM, who has scarcely used email for the past five years.

"It's not collaborative enough, it's not open enough, it's not transparent enough," complained Suarez in a recent video post, acknowledging however that it would take a long process of education to wean people off email.

Dieter Kempf, head of German high-tech lobby group BITKOM, told AFP that although he was among those irritated by the flood of daily emails, he acknowledged that they have greatly improved communication within society.

"I think we can learn a lot from technology to create different communication forms within a company," said Kempf.

Using systems similar to Facebook or Twitter, employees can share ideas, tell others what they are working on in real time, transfer documents or ask questions, without having to send emails copied to dozens of colleagues.

"You want to get rid of ? Good luck with that," smiles Tom Reuner, an IT analyst at British firm Ovum.

"This could only happen at an internal level (of a company)," he noted.

"You may be able to change the behaviour of your own employees but how do you deal with suppliers, the external side?"

Explore further: Britain's UKIP issues online rules after gaffes

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US firms drawing a line on after-hours email

Nov 16, 2012

Katey Klippel makes a point of keeping her smartphone in her bag when she returns home from a hard day at the management consulting firm where she works in Washington.

No holiday e-mail break for Americans: survey

Nov 23, 2010

Americans will take a break from the office over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays but most won't stop checking their work emails, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

Are you cuckoo? What your emailing style says about you

Sep 19, 2012

(Phys.org)—Most people have an email address these days and electronic mail has superseded letters and facsimiles as the primary method of written communication between individuals, particularly in business.

VW gives employees break from their Blackberry

Dec 23, 2011

Are you fed up with your Blackberry because it effectively puts you on call for your employer 24/7? Are you a slave to its blinking red light and the vibrating alarm that tells you you have a new email?

Recommended for you

Britain's UKIP issues online rules after gaffes

7 hours ago

UK Independence Party (UKIP), the British anti-European Union party, has ordered a crackdown on the use of social media by supporters and members following a series of controversies.

Sony saga blends foreign intrigue, star wattage

7 hours ago

The hackers who hit Sony Pictures Entertainment days before Thanksgiving crippled the network, stole gigabytes of data and spilled into public view unreleased films and reams of private and sometimes embarrassing ...

Digital dilemma: How will US respond to Sony hack?

Dec 18, 2014

The detective work blaming North Korea for the Sony hacker break-in appears so far to be largely circumstantial, The Associated Press has learned. The dramatic conclusion of a Korean role is based on subtle ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dogbert
1.3 / 5 (3) Mar 07, 2013
Email's biggest problem is its lack of security.

A secondary problem is that, unlike paper communications, email may be saved somewhere indefinitely.

Though email could be eliminated for internal communications, replacing something which clients use for nearly instant communications and which is very convenient for clients is very problematic.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.