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References and resources
Are we facing the death of email?
The CEO of information technology services company Atos is to ban his staff from sending each other emails, complaining that they waste time and are outmoded. He claims that only 10 per cent of the 200 electronic messages his employees receive per day turn out to be useful.
Internal email will be phased out inside 18 months at Atos. The 75,000 staff will instead use instant messaging and chat-style collaborative services inspired by social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Atos staff used to spend between five and 20 hours a day dealing with email, but use of replacements has cut its use by up to 20 per cent.
This strategy has already been adopted by teenagers, who are shunning the now middle-aged email, which was first developed in 1971. Email use is down 31 per cent among the 12-17 age group this year, with a further 21 per cent slump among those aged 18-24.
Mobile Instant Messaging (IM) services such as Blackberry Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger, designed to facilitate low-cost, real-time communication have supplanted ponderous email for the tech-savvy next generation. Mobile IM users are predicted to exceed 1.3 billion worldwide by 2016.
It's a development which Facebook Messages, the social network's "modern messaging system" seeks to capitalise on, merging text messages, IM and email into a single interface for 750 million users.
Meanwhile, spam still accounts for an estimated 89 per cent of all emails. The proportion of companies sending more than 50,000 emails each month has gradually increased in the last four years, from 40 per cent in 2007 to almost two thirds (60 per cent) in 2011.
Tim Walters, senior analyst at the technology research company Forrester Research, said: "Email is disruptive, wastes a great deal of time and it's miserable as a collaborative tool. But it's still used daily by 85 per cent of workers." He added: "Email isn't a beast to be killed. Sometimes it's the most appropriate tool for communication. Other times people send them thoughtlessly or to cover themselves at work. And in government, emails have much greater potential for future discovery than IM."
What could replace email as a hassle-free, more collaborative communication tool? Yammer, a micro-blogging "Facebook for business" which allows groups of employees to share ideas through private communication, is now used by more than 80,000 firms.
Alternatives to email