November 29, 2011

CEO Bans Email-Maybe Email Really Is Dead

Atos Headquarters Location at Lago Maggiore
A few weeks back I pointed out to DredLaw readers ways that new technology would be superior to email. (Link to article)  Now here is a European company, Atos, that is banning employees from using email to communicate with fellow employees (Link to article) and for precisely the same reasons mentioned.  They will be using new collaborative tools and instant and video messaging as alternatives.  While I applaud the effort, they will have to be very careful with their data retention and privacy programs.

The rules governing retention for business and legal application do not differentiate based on the type of computer tool or application, or smart phone, that may be used to create the data, but rather, the content of the data.  I am not saying it can't be done.  It can.  However, it will take good planning, training, and auditing to make sure their policies and procedures will withstand legal scrutiny later.   The ABC news article goes on to say:
When asked how employees have responded to the policy, Crouch told ABC News the overall response “has been positive with strong take up of alternative tools.”

Moreover, the CEO responsible, Thierry Breton is on point.  The article reveals his bold logic:

“We are producing data on a massive scale that is fast polluting our working environments and also encroaching into our personal lives,” he said in a statement when first announcing the policy in Feburary. “At [Atos] we are taking action now to reverse this trend, just as organizations took measures to reduce environmental pollution after the industrial revolution.” 

The article does not mention some of the applications, but described them as "Facebook-like."  Which coincidentally, is the same way I described Rypple and Yammer.  We will look to follow-up with Atos in the future to see how their approach continues to work.  My hunch is it will be successful and will be emulated by many other companies trying to effectively manage their ever-growing repositories of electronically stored information.   Kudos...


Dan Loper said...

This is more than just a technological shift, but also a cultural one as well. People will still get around the policy by sending e-mails to personal accounts such as gmail. I don't think the answer to the problem is changing the way one communicates by moving to different technology. We still have the question of which IM's are record's and how long do we perserve the conversation. I believe that the implementation and enforcement of sound information governance and data retention policies along with compliance audits for adherence is a step in the right direction. said...

Dan, Thanks for your comment and yes, compliance audits will be important for any company switching over. As to whether changing to a different technology matters? I think you are not seeing the shift. Many people no longer send an email joke to all their friends, they simply post it to Facebook. Why deal with email, cc's, etc., when your whole team can see your comments or edits posted on a project site? IMHO, these new communication avenues will grow in use and email will decline.