Cutting the Grass

No Email Initiatives – In the Trough of Dissilusionment and Obsolete Before Plateau

No Email Initiatives are an approach taken by a number of organisations to improve communication be eliminating email. In many organisations email is used as if it were the only communication tool and applied to every problem even when there are far better ways of communicating. Rather than getting people to change the way they use email some organisations have decided that elimination is the only answer.

Proponents of this approach exist, some examples:

  • Luis Suarez has lived outside his inbox for many years now. He’s managed to dramatically reduce the amount of email he received and spent much more time utilising the value of social software in his time at IBM. Luis is no longer working at IBM, but is still a huge proponent of living outside the inbox.
  • Atos launched a zero email initiative in 2011 and received much press coverage because of it: “Its aim is to transform towards a social, collaborative enterprise where we share knowledge and find experts easily in order to respond to clients’ needs quickly and efficiently, delivering tangible business results.”

Reading the latest Gartner Hype Cycle for Unified Communications recently I was intrigued to note that they place No Email Initiatives in the Trough of Disillusionment and in the category Obsolete Before Plateau. Reading through the details they estimate that the Market Penetration will be Less than 1% of target audience. Talk about kicking an idea when it’s down!

I used to have a manager who called email BATS – Blame Allocation and Transfer System. Anyone who’s used email in a corporate setting can relate to that definition.

Jack Madden recently proposed banning attachments as an alternative approach with enterprise file sync and share (FSS) and collaborative document editing being a better way of collaborating. He does this whilst acknowledging that there is no escaping email.

The value and the challenge of email is that it is universal. It’s rarely the best answer, but it’s regularly the easiest answer. The alternatives are nowhere near as universal. Neither Twitter or Facebook; nor Google Drive, Office 365 or Dropbox; not even Skype, Lync or WhatsApp are as ubiquitous. With one piece of information you can send someone an email and be pretty confident that they will receive it; add a file and your level of confidence will remain high.

Email is embedded into so many processes; when was the last time you ordered something on-line and didn’t receive the receipt in your email?

To be clear, Gartner isn’t saying that organisations shouldn’t try to radically change the way that people work and to dramatically cut the amount of email but they are saying:

Given the ubiquity of internal email communications in businesses today, elimination of it would truly have a transformational effect, although we believe that few organizations will (or even should) actually achieve it.

The point being that it’s the transformation that organisations should be looking to, not the elimination of email. Organisations need to adopt new ways of collaborating and the result will be a drop in email. It is my belief that organisations that don’t will be overtaken by those that do.

The Roman “Even Millennials Want Face Time at Work” has highlighted a couple of studies that reference the desire for face-to-face meetings whatever the generation:

What both studies also demonstrate is that while technology may be wonderful, efficient, and convenient, the benefits are limited. We innately need to be around other people. As good as technology gets, we still value in-person meetings highly. No matter what generation we’re talking about, the vast majority of employees don’t want to be alone, isolated from coworkers and managers. I worked from home for four years, and it was a huge challenge as a business owner. So now I have an office, and the expense has been worth every penny.

Even Millennials Want Face Time at Work

There’s a broad assumption that as Generation-Y and Generation-Z (who are really the post-millenials) enter the workforce their use of technology will negate the need for meetings and workplaces where people can meet in person.

The future might look different, but for now, technology hasn’t replaced that deep-felt need for people to meet in person. Nor has it replaced the need for engaging workplaces.

Street of Tokyo

Because it’s Friday: Eye know – A Kaleidoscopic Journey through Tokyo

There are loads of first-person videos showing scenes as people travel through cities at night.

This one goes a bit further turning journeys through the streets of Tokyo into wonderful kaleidoscopic images.

A kaleidoscope was one of my favourite toys as a child, so it’s great to relive that experience in a different form:

By Hiroshi Kondo

Chatsworth Pathway

“Google for Work” – Reflecting the Shift in Work

This week Google has announced that it is re-branding Google Enterprise to Google for Work.

Just a simple name change? Just re-branding?

Perhaps Enterprise reflect something stodgy and old-fashioned since for Work reflects something more active (or whatever the marketing phrase might be)?

Here’s an example of press commentary from The Verge:

Enterprise is a boring word. Like, immediately-avert-your-eyes kind of boring. And it seems that Google has gotten the picture. Today it announced that Google Enterprise is bring renamed Google for Work, a much friendlier name that actually does a better job of describing what the product is — a series of tools for, you know, work, rather than whatever a nebulous enterprise is.

Organisations tend to re-brand for a reason, and the reason behind the Google for Work re-branding is that work has changed and is changing.

Here’s an extract from the Telegraph:

The move, part of a new focus on its business offering, is a reaction against the “enterprise” tag, which has become synonymous with slow-moving, outdated technology.

“Google for Work covers not just traditional business but also skills and education. Enterprise alone doesn’t fit these different communities,” Thomas Davies, head of Google for Work in Northern Europe, told the Telegraph.

“The time of ‘enterprise technology’ is in the past. This is a statement to the market. The term ‘enterprise’ will not be relevant within the next two years.

According to Mr Davies, a “consumerisation” of technology has been taking place in the workplace over the last 10 years.

Eric Schmidt said it like this in the official announcement:

Work today is very different from 10 years ago. Cloud computing, once a new idea, is abundantly available, and collaboration is possible across offices, cities, countries and continents. Ideas can go from prototype to development to launch in a matter of days. Working from a computer, tablet or phone is no longer just a trend—it’s a reality. And millions of companies, large and small, have turned to Google’s products to help them launch, build and transform their businesses, and help their employees work the way they live. In other words, work is already better than it used to be.

There are a number of posts on this site about how the world of work is changing and this change in the market is what Google is reflecting:

In this last of that sample of articles I highlighted a set of UK statistics that clearly demonstrated a massive shift from large organisations to small organisations and sole traders. People within large organisations are working differently also, using Outside-In approaches to getting work done.

PWC describe the reshaping of the working environment as three worlds:

  • Blue World – Corporate is king
  • Green World – Companies care
  • Orange World – Small is beautiful

Each of these worlds provides a lens through which to see the changes. In the Orange World this is what is happening:

In the Orange World organisations fragment into looser networks of autonomous, often specialised operations. Technology helps to bring these networks together, often on a task-by-task basis, with social media heightening the connectivity upon which this world depends.

Supply chains are built from complex, organic associations of specialist providers, varying greatly from region to region and market to market. Looser, less tightly regulated clusters of companies are seen to work more effectively than their larger and potentially more unwieldy counterparts.

These Orange World organisations (and Green World) work in dramatically different ways to current Blue World organisations and there are going to be many-many more of them in the future. That is what Google mean when they say “The term ‘enterprise’ will not be relevant within the next two years” and that is why it’s now Google for Work.