13 December 2011

Harmon.ie challenges Atos Origin on zero email stance

Following Atos Origin CEO Thierry Breton's recent restatement of his plans for a zero internal email policy for the global IT consultancy within the next two years, Microsoft SharePoint specialist harmon.ie says the plan could be disastrous.

Breton believes that organisations are facing an explosion of data, and sees the solution as moving over to improved communication applications, as well as collaboration and social media tools.

"We are producing data on a massive scale that is fast polluting our working environments... At Atos Origin, we are taking action now to reverse this trend, just as organisations took measures to reduce environmental pollution after the industrial revolution," explains Breton.

But harmon.ie vice president David Lavenda says that Atos' plan is bucking the industry trend – "a classic case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater".

Getting people to use new social and collaboration tools is an uphill battle, he asserts. "While early technology adopters readily embrace new ... 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," quotes Lavenda.

He states that Breton's vision amounts to "a highly disruptive work strategy that can alienate all but the most adventurous technology adopters. It just doesn't make sense for most people".

He also expresses concerns about running dual communications technologies. "What happens when you need to send a message to someone in the company and someone outside the company? The idea of adding another communication platform goes completely against the trend of reducing communication modalities, which is the direction of the market."

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," he insists.

And Lavenda cites a recent uSamp survey of more than 1,000 IT users, which suggests that 78% of business users are more likely to use collaboration and social business tools if they are accessible in a familiar work environment, such as email.

Nevertheless, Breton remains unrepentant, citing his original goal as stil entirely valid.

"The volume of emails we send and receive is unsustainable for business," he says. "Managers spend between five and 20 hours a week reading and writing emails. They are already using social media networking more than search, and spend 25% of their time searching for information."

For Atos Origin, he says, collaboration tools and social community platforms are the present and increasingly the future of sharing and tracking ideas and information. "Businesses need to do more of this - email is on the way out as the best way to run a company and do business."

Brian Tinham

Supporting Information

Atos Ltd

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