The Death of Email — At Least Internally — At A Large Multi-national Company

The Death of Email -- At Least Internally -- At A Large Multi-national Company | 40Tech

People have been talking about the death of email for a while now. Every time there’s a new, communications-focused technology, most notably Google Wave — and we all know how that went — email eulogies pop up all over the internet. It seems likely to me that email is here to stay, at least for a while longer, but if other companies follow the example of Atos, a 74,000 employee French tech company spanning 42 countries, email may actually begin its prophesied decline.

Atos has banned email. At least, they’ve banned it internally. That’s right, those 74,000 employees can no longer send each other minutiae-filled email chains that may or may not ever get fully read. They will no longer be able to forward jokes and silly messages throughout the company or the office. They will no longer be able to send on-line emails to avoid the potential perspiration of actually getting up from their desk and walking over to their friend and asking in person. I say good riddance.

Atos announced the no-email policy in February of 2011, but have now officially implemented it. CEO Thierry Breton, who was also the French finance minister from 2005-2007, said that employee emails are only 10 percent useful, and are 18 percent spam — which seems about right to me, considering the emails I’ve received in companies I’ve worked for. All to often, the emails would be useless time-wasters — especially the ones that involved questions from co-workers that didn’t actually read the email in the first place.

Atos isn’t leaving their employees without a digital option for communication, though. They are using tools such as the Atos Wiki and their Office Communicator chat program to allow employees to collaborate on documents and projects, as well as chat, video  conference, and share applications and files.

I think the Atos approach is the only way for a company to successfully achieve adoption of internal social media tools and, so far, the only possible negative fallout I can see would be dependent on the tools they use and how user-friendly they are.  They seem to be doing okay in that department, however, as Atos has reported to ABC News that employee response “has been positive with strong take up of alternative tools.”

What do you think of the Atos no-email policy? Is it the beginning of a massive “kill email” movement? Will it lead to better outside-company communications as well? Discuss in the comments.

Tech Firm Implements Employee ‘Zero Email’ Policy [ABC News on Yahoo.com]

Sign and Send Faxes and Emailed Documents . . . Without a Fax, Scanner, or Printer

hellofax page

With the dominance of email and other forms of digital communications, the fax machine is dying a slow death. There are still times, though, where you’ll want to not only send a fax, but attach a signature to a faxed document. You can do so without a scanner, fax machine, or printer, using webapp HelloFax. HelloFax also supports the signing and sending of documents via email.

With HelloFax, you upload your document (so be forewarned if privacy is an issue) and enter the recipient’s fax number or email address. If you’d like, you can also add a signature or other marking to the document that you’re sending. The option box for this will appear after you’ve uploaded your document.

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You have the choice of creating your signature with your mouse (probably quite difficult), uploading an image, or by taking a photo of your signature with your phone. HelloFax will process that, and isolate it for you. You can crop the signature image, as well as adjust the contrast. The background of this image will be transparent, so you don’t have to worry about it accidentally obscuring parts of your document. I found that my signature looked horrible by default, but I was able with to get it looking nice with just a bit of tweaking.

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When you’re all done, just hit send, and your message will be sent. HelloFax allows you to send five faxed pages for free. After that, you need a paid account, which begins at $4.99 per month for 50 faxed pages. The sending of signed emails is unlimited.

How do you send faxed documents, if you don’t have a fax machine?

HelloFax [via MakeUseOf]

Text Messaging for Super Spies

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Are you a spy, engaged in nefarious business dealings, or an extreme fan of privacy? Maybe you just really liked Mission Impossible or Inspector Gadget? If so, you will probably get a kick out of self-destructing text messages. That’s right, messages where you get to add your own little “time-bomb” that deletes the possibly offending or incriminating text off both your own phone, and that of the receiving party. Never get caught sexting by your significant other again.* Don’t leave a trail of incriminating evidence behind!* Etc. Etc. Etc… You get it, I’m sure.

Read on for more details, opinions, and the meaning of the little *’s.

ba-Bomb image by LKaestner

I understand the need for privacy in personal and business communications. I don’t have a problem with that and I support it wholeheartedly. It just seems to me that the marketing around TigerText and TigerText Pro, the mobile app that gives you the power of the self-destructing message, skirts the sleazy. Oh, they never out and out say “hide your potentially incriminating communications” or “never get caught.” They are very careful about that, in fact, focusing more on privacy protection and the fact that they are a free text and picture messaging service. However, something about the overall tone of their message tickles my increasingly cynical ear — especially when they bandy about quotes from some of their reviewers, like the New York Post, that state “TigerText eliminates the possibility of damaging evidence being left behind.” Maybe it’s just me, but broadcasting that statement as a part of your marketing seems to target a specific audience need.

I suppose, fundamentally, that I have some sort of righteous moral issue with the fact that the need exists in the first place. Somewhere, deep in my airy-fairy soul, there is a little voice whispering, “why can’t we all just be honest and nice, and stuff.” I recognize that the little voice is sadly naive and am actually much more practical in my view of human nature, but the tiny little fellow is persistent and closely related to the last resident (and black sheep) of Pandora’s Box. It also believes in the possibility of unicorns, dragons, and other romantic notions, so take from that what you will.

In any case, TigerText is a good service for getting around texting and picture messaging costs on your smartphone. It works over WiFi, and so can work in poor service areas, and is a fast, easy to use app available for all major smartphone platforms. You can only communicate with other TigerText users, however, so in many ways it is more like an instant messaging service that allows you to add a timed-delete function to your messages.

TigerText is free for personal use, and TigerText pro — the enterprise version — has some nifty features like email notifications and the like. It also has branches that are specific to those needing HIPAA (healthcare and insurance) and SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act – national securities investment protections) compliance in their communications. If you want to try it out, go to your smartphone’s app store, or head to this link for personal, and this one for enterprise.

* Notes

A word to the wise: as TigerText themselves point out, this is by no means a bulletproof method of not getting caught. Send sensitive information to others at your own risk — anyone can take a picture of a smartphone screen, either with another camera or the press of a button or two. How much you really trust the person you are sending the message to had best be at the forefront of your mind.

Oh, and also: 40Tech by no means condones cheating on your spouse, conducting nefarious dealings, yadda yadda.

What do you think of TigerText? What would you use it for?