Why Emails are going to be obsolete?


“Emails are dead” – Marc Zukerberg 2011.

I am not sure if the above statement was a prophecy for the future or a warning to Google but Marc Zukerberg has one attentive listener – Atos CEO Thierry Breton.

In December last year Breton famously declared that the 80,000 strong, 6 Billion Pound Company was going off emails by 2014.

Now I have my own reservations about that statement but I do agree that emails are now starting to get ineffective. I spend a lot of time clearing and archiving my inbox. Last week I did some calculations to figure out that I spent almost 12 hours in the week answering and archiving official emails. If I add the personal emails then it was almost 20 hours in the week.

I looked up the industry figures and my hours were justified. On an average a email user spent 15-20 hours answering emails out of which only 15% were useful. Also every Wednesday, I spend one hour in the morning just deleting spam from my inbox.


Now all this calculation leads me to believe that emails have become ineffective due to the overuse and potentially time wasting nature of the communication. Today we have almost 3.1 Billion email users. And the number is slated to grow to about 4 billion by 2014. However, although the email users are expected to increase, the email usage is declining steadily. A Comscore study last year points to this fact as well!

So how does one go off emails?

Well the answer is (obviously) Social networking.

When I registered for my Yahoo account in 1999, I was mostly mailing my friends. Today I use Facebook and G talk to communicate with them. Also I use SMS. In the last year only 10 % of my emails have been to my friends. So clearly I can do away with email for personal communication.

But what about official work? How can I do away with my Outlook and Lotus?

That is a question best answered by Breton himself who is asking Atos engineers to come up with social media tools to be used internally within the company. Most consulting firms have intranets and forums, all it needs is a platform for internal discussions.

Already tools like Salesforce ‘Chatter’ enable large teams to collaborate together real time to crucial projects eliminating the need for repeated emails back and forth.

Some other consulting groups are also forming internal blogs and forums to reduce the emails, some also have provisions for databases directly accessible from the server eliminating the need for emails.

So official emails are a corporate policy and unless the company you work for has a no-email road map like Atos looks like it is 15-20 hours for archiving and reading mails.

But I would like to hear from you, imagine if you are the CEO of a large firm with thousands of employees. If you had to implement a no email policy how would you go about it.

Would love to hear your views?

  1. Rohit says

    Well, I will not say that email is dead as still professionally you need email clients. How you are supposed to send confidential business letters on a social networking site.

    1. Dr Vikram says

      Hi Rohit

      The only example we have for corporate communication is Atos who are planning to use internal social media tools that will ensure security as well. If you do know any other strategies do let me know

  2. Jagan says

    This is very interesting. Social networking sites/tools play a big role and changed tremendously the way to collaborate with friends and family. But office communication still needs email. As a web designer, servicing to SME sector, i doubt that emails are not going to fade out that short time at least mainly in India.

    1. Dr Vikram says

      Yes Jagan I also have been thinking about it. Personally emails are of little use but officially they are. But Atos has taken the lead lets see how it works out. Do let me know if you have any other ideas.

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