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Reaction to Atos' boss e-mail ban plan

Atos CEO Thierry Breton caused some controversy when he told the Wall Street Journal that he hadn’t sent a work e-mail in three years and planned to ban internal e-mail at the company.

On the Atos website, the company provides more information about its ‘zero e-mail’ policy, stating that: “The volume of e-mails we send and receive is unsustainable for business.”

Building social and collaboration capabilities into peoples’ familiar tools and workflows is a great way of easing them into new technologies

David Lavenda,
“We are producing data on a massive scale that is fast polluting our working environments and also encroaching into our personal lives,” said Breton on the company’s website. “At Atos we are taking action now to reverse this trend, just as organisations took measures to reduce environmental pollution after the industrial revolution.”

Atos is planning to have scrapped internal work e-mails by 2014.

The company will instead encourage the use of social collaboration tools to communicate, with Microsoft Office Communicator (now renamed Lync) being one tool mentioned.

In an interview with the BBC, Breton talked more about the type of tools that could be used instead of e-mail.

“When we don't have internal e-mail anymore we will have fantastic new tools – a cloud computing environment, social networks, instant messaging, micro blogging, document sharing, knowledge community – these offer a much better approach for an information technology company,” said Breton.

He also told the BBC that the company has seen a 20 per cent decrease in its own internal e-mail, since announcing the zero e-mail policy.

There has, however, been a strong reaction to Breton’s policy across the web.

Getting people to use new social and collaboration tools is an uphill battle, according to vice president David Lavenda, because people don’t like change.

He said: “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 three to four per cent of workers using microblogging technologies while 8-15 per cent use social networks.”

Instead of ditching e-mail, Lavenda recommends using it 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.”

Karen McCandless

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