The future of email (and pointless messages)
Ever been deep in work, concentrating hard on a serious task, when your computer announces the arrival of a new email to your inbox?
Often, the temptation to check the contents of the email is too much to resist: you stop what you're doing, switch over to your inbox only to find that the email is a message from a friend, a FaceBook update or a humorous video.
By the time you've read or deleted the pointless message, your head is on things other than your original task and concentration needs to be re-established.
I read with interest this week about Atos in France. It's one of the largest information technology companies in the world, and it's banned email.
The new CEO, Thierry Breton, believes that the productivity of his staff is being seriously eroded by having to deal with pointless emails, both work and private. Thierry believes that “it's time to think differently. The email is no longer the appropriate communication tool and the deluge of information will be one of the most important problems a company will have to face in the future.”
He wants his people to have more face-to-face interaction and to use instant messaging systems instead. This, he believes will encourage more meaningful interaction, save time and result in greater efficiency.
Instinct tells me that Thierry is probably right. I'm old enough to remember a time when business functioned perfectly well without email. Admittedly the fax was always a terribly painful way to communicate with contacts, but we certainly picked up the phone and met them face to face more often. We built relationships with them, not the type that can be jeopardised by a poorly-worded email accidentally conveying the wrong tone.
No one could argue that the deluge of information that Thierry talks of is not going to be a real consideration for businesses in the future, but might that really mean the end of email use in business?
Time will tell and we'll…oh hold on, I've just heard the ping of an email arriving. Back in a sec.