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Defiant Atos sticks with company-wide email ban

Email taking up to 20 hours per employee per week

The chief executive at IT outsourcer Atos has insisted his company will stick with controversial plans to "ban" email between staff by 2014, a move intended to improve productivity.

A recent interview given by Atos chief executive Thierry Breton, which included his plans to get rid of internal email, resulted in worldwide headlines from an astounded media and cries of disbelief among other commentators.

Breton wants to do away with internal email within three years and encourage staff to instead use social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter to communicate, in addition to internal unified messaging systems that include instant messaging.

He said Atos had discovered staff received over 100 emails a day, and that reading and replying took up to 20 hours of their work week.

In an interview with the BBC this week, he said he was "surprised by the interest - or let's say intrigued" by the excitement caused by his comments.

Breton said that young Atos staff joining the company are unfamilar with established internal email systems like Outlook, having been weaned on Facebook and Twitter, and external email systems like Hotmail and Yahoo.

The Atos boss is not banning the use of external email systems, and adds that he uses those himself, but feels that internal email systems fuel data overloads and "information pollution". He said corporate email systems generated messages that were not useful and wasted the time of those receiving and managing them.

In February, at an innovation conference, Breton said: "Businesses need to do more of this - email is on the way out as the best way to run a company and do business."

Atos said it had set up collaboration tools and social community platforms to share and keep track of ideas on subjects like innovation, lean management, and sales as part of its attempt to reduce needless data exchange and searching.

Last year, on-demand apps firm Salesforce.com said most emails sent at work are "irrelevant". A survey it commissioned found that 70 percent of workers were sent irrelevant emails or were copied on emails of no interest.


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