The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

LOLing and Leaving #noemail

While some like Observer (UK) writer John Naughton are LOLing over Mark Zuckerberg’s observation that email is dead,” others, like Atos SA (Europe’s Largest IT Company) CEO Theirry Breton are kicking email out of their companies.
Thierry Breton - Credits:  France TÚlÚcom
Breton’s pronouncements got ink (err electrons too) in Wall Street Journal and The Telegraph (UK) yesterday before getting the hyperactive Slashdot treatment. today. Among the firebombs tossed by Breton were:

“The email is no longer the appropriate (communication) tool. The deluge of information will be one of the most important problems a company will have to face (in the future). It is time to think differently.”

“Companies must prepare for the new wave of usage and behaviour”

Obvious statements to folks reading this blog or who have since shutoff email themselves.

Not that everyone agrees. Dudley Dawson at composed a long whine about Breton including a critic of his English (or of the translator’s version of Breton. I await to read with some anticipated glee Dawson’s French postings.) Dawson raises many points, misfiring on each and misinterpreting all while missing the main point — collaboration and social are less served by email.

But with Atos and IBM both pushing for #noemail workplaces, Naughton’s claim that “[T]he main reason young people don’t use email is that they haven’t yet joined the world of work” becomes more empty and obviously reactionary and tired. Work at great companies isn’t about getting stuck in unproductive technologies but about pressing forward to a more efficient and productive future — without email.


  1. Dudley B. Dawson

    12/4/2011 at 3:48 pm


    First, thanks for the link.

    Second, I believe it is you who is missing the point. Collaboration and social activities come in many different forms. Email serves many different functions, some of which are better done by other forms of online communication and collaboration tools. But not all. Anyone who believes so, is simply not well in tune with the average corporate workplace. But, let’s just assume for a moment that you are right and that email can be replaced by texting, IM, and facebook (as Breton proclaims). Couple of questions for you.

    1. If it is better, why take email away completely with a deadline of 18 months? Why not do the same thing to desk phones? After all, they can be replaced by more efficient methods as well.

    2. How is texting a more efficient means of communication than email? The only reason texting exists was because email wasn’t prevalent on phones until Blackberries, iPhones and Androids hit the marketplace. Breton is a moron for thinking texting differs from email.

    I’d love to have a debate with you in an article regarding #noemail workplaces. I think it would be a great topic.

  2. Paul

    12/6/2011 at 2:03 pm

    We’ll be pointing last each other each pointing at our own best points. My claim is that email has been, rightfully, superseded by more instant, more flexible and more appropriate means of collaboration. Yes, you *could* use email for many things and you could ride a horse to work too. To put a point on it, I say email is not better and I, in the course of this blog cite solid research that supports that conclusion. Further, I put myself on the line by acting on that research and feeling the pain and pleasure of #noemail.

    So I like your assumption that I am right — because, well, I am. (he said modestly)

    1. I haven’t had a desk phone in nearly a decade. I also eliminated desk phones from my lab. I kept one only as long as cell phones weren’t ubiquitous and reliable. Why? I had students that work late into the night and needed communications in case of an emergency. As it turns out, the cells are now more reliable than the land lines. See you later, grandma’s phone. (and associated billing)

    Additionally and like much of the data shows, my students — living away from their families’ homes — skipped land lines entirely. The rare exception is when a father demanded and paid for the land line; he thought the security system he insisted (perhaps wisely) that his daughter and friends needed required a land line. After the first semester, that was gone. One roommate called the security company and had the system switched to wireless.

    2. Moron? No, Breton cites significant productivity studies (some also cited here in this blog) that show how disruptive email is compared to other forms of messaging. The time to return to a previous task is significantly different depending on the means of messaging. Further the time to resolving an issue is lessened significantly depending on the level of interactivity offered by each messaging environment. (see several IBM white papers referenced here on this blog and on IBM’s Social Business site).

    I wouldn’t call you a moron, but I would say that you are not looking at what you call on your blog comments the F&F. A moron is someone incapable of engaging in the F&F due to a lack of capacity. You are however slack by your own definition. None of your assertions are supported by contemporary trusted Facts&Figures.

    For a kind of debate in progress, see Dec 5 NYTimes Should Workplaces Ban E-Mail?. More on that in a post to follow.

    If you’d still like to debate, lemme know.

Leave a Reply

© 2018 The Real Paul Jones

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑