Could you give up internal email for good? That’s exactly what Atos is hoping to do (read about it here). Atos has set itself the goal of eliminating all internal email by 2013. As the amount of information we generate grows, email has quickly become one of the largest IT challenges for organizations. This growth issue isn’t just from the traditional issues of cost, storage, and management. Bloated email systems also increase the amount of time taken to find information and also remove it once it’s reached the end of its lifecycle.
Email archives are virtual warehouses that contain large volumes of unstructured information, which is essentially information that can’t be easily understood or efficiently categorized. To give you an example, email messages are typically categorized by Sender and Date of Receipt which really doesn’t give you any indication of its content. How would you comply with a request to provide all emails and documents on a particular project or a particular topic, or remove all copies of contracts from your email system because they had now expired? How quickly could you go into the ‘warehouse’ (inboxes, personal archives, backup tapes, etc.) and pull out all of the information that you need?
Most internal emails are brief requests, or responses to requests, that used to be conducted through sticky notes or telephone calls. We also use email to coordinate meetings and pass documents around, usually for review or to provide someone with a reference copy.
Personally, I think the elimination of internal email is not just a great idea but a very achievable goal that can bring extraordinary efficiency increases and cost savings to an organization. There are so many tools available that allow you to manage this information without email but within its correct context by promoting social sharing, centralized repositories for document access and collaboration, and simple chat-based communication for those one-line messages, brief requests, and file transfers.
A life without email may not be that far behind.