Companies Drop Email in Favor of Direct Communication Tools

According to CBC News, Italian sports car maker Ferrari delivered an eyebrow raising directive to their employees earlier this month: Sending the same email to more than three in-house recipients is no longer allowed. In the message sent to its employees, Ferrari cited time wastage and inefficiency as the impetus behind the new order. It stated:

The injudicious sending of emails with dozens of recipients often on subjects with no relevance to most of the latter is one of the main causes of time wastage and inefficiency in the average working day in business.

Simply stated, the email regulation encourages employees to talk more and write less

Ferrari is not the only company to recognize the importance of direct communication and restructure the workplace to facilitate it. Atos, a global technology firm, announced a zero email initiative in 2011 with plans to phase out email--and adopt replacement tools such as video conferencing--completely by 2014. Atos chief executive, Thierry Breton, had estimated that barely 10% of the 200 internal emails employees received per day were useful. In fact, Breton likened email to "pollution" in an otherwise productive day. 

Less typing means more talking!

Less typing means more talking!

In a March 2013 update on the changes, The Connected Business reported ongoing and significant success. Since 2011, Atos employees have trimmed email and adopted more cloud-based collaboration tools that facilitate real-time communication. The IT firm expects to see complete obsoletion of internal emails by the end of 2013, with the eventual goal of zero emails--internal and external--in 2014.

The move away from email and toward more collaborative communication technology started much earlier. Consider a study published by Wainhouse Research in 2005, The Business Case for Video Conferencing. In this study, authors Andrew W. Davis and Ira M. Weinstein stated that although email had at one time been an important technological development and served its users well, by 2005, it had become so day-to-day that it was bothersome. Everyone used email for everything, whether it was of value or not. The study suggests, even eight years ago, that a natural evolution was nudging us away from email toward more advanced real-time communication technology.

The authors of the Wainhouse study reported what we, Atos, and Ferrari know now: that real-time communication like video conferencing, cuts email clutter, increases productivity, improves problem solving, and adds purpose to our interactions. The trend will only continue. Are you on board with the right tools?

Myths about the Use of Telepresence

Technology has changed rapidly in recent years. What was once only viable in the ideas of science fiction writers is becoming a reality today. Telepresence is one of those areas that was seen in futuristic novels and television shows not that long ago for some people. However, there are still some myths that surround this technology, making it critical to debunk those myths and move forward with its use.

It Uses Too Much Bandwidth

Bandwidth is often a major concern for businesses and educational facilities. Using too much bandwidth costs money and slows down the online experience for everyone. This is why many companies and schools have been hesitant to use video conferencing. However, with advances in technology and changes to coding, these conferences now use more than 50 percent less bandwidth, making it a viable option for many.

It Costs Too Much

Businesses are constantly seeking ways to save money to increase their profits. Telepresence seems like it would be a costly way to keep in touch and hold meetings. Those who think this technology costs too much, though, have not likely looked at all their options. There are many services available that offer these services at reasonable rates, especially if you will be using it often. In most cases, when compared to travel reimbursements and lost time at work, the cost of any telepresence service is well worth it.

It Has a Limited Reach

Some people mistakenly think video conferencing can only be used by executives or within a particular organization. This is also not true. Video conferencing does not limit what you can do. Instead, it increases your ability to do more and reach more people. You can now hold instant meetings with your clients, other locations for your business and even your vendors. With telepresence, your options are almost literally endless.

Don't allow the use of new technology or the myths that surround telepresence keep you from taking advantage. Instead, do your research and learn which information is true and which is a myth. Once you can get beyond the myths, you will see how useful this technology can be for your business.

Discover the Benefits of Telepresence Services

The business world has been changing rapidly, particularly with the increased use of the Internet. In the face of these changes, it is important for businesses to either adapt or be left behind, struggling to succeed. One of the areas in which business has changed drastically is the ability to use a telepresence services instead of being there in person. This technology can offer many benefits to businesses.

A Global Reach

The Internet has made reaching around the world more possible than it ever was in the past. The global economy has greatly shaped many businesses, allowing them to expand without spending a lot of money on travel and long distance phone calls. Today, any business can reach out to clients or business associates anywhere in the world.  Using a telepresence service will bridge the geographic divide and put you in the same room as your clients.

Greater Productivity

When employees need to stay home because they are ill, a child is ill or the weather is poor, they typically lose out on the ability to work. With telepresence services, though, these employees are often able to complete some of their work from the comforts of their own home. Instead of heading into the office despite an illness or the weather, employees can log into a video conference with the office to attend meetings and complete necessary work to increase their level of productivity.

Save Money and Time

In the past, many businesses would send employees to important business conferences and other meetings in other locations. Even when these events were in the same city, employees would use up valuable company time and resources driving to the location, attending the conference and driving back. Some events required more extensive travel over longer distances and greater time periods away from work. When people can attend these events via telepresence, it will save your company the cost of reimbursing their travel and the time employees would otherwise spend away from work.

A telepresence service offers many benefits to businesses and the employees who use it. If you haven't yet considered the use of video conferencing and other long-distance solutions, it is important to consider all the benefits to determine if this is a solution that will allow you and your employees to increase productivity, save money and resources and expand your reach. 


From Fantasy to the Future: Holograms at the Video Conferencing Table

Something new is coming your way – Princess Leia may soon have a seat at your video conferencing table.  Thirty-six years ago this Star Wars icon was a screen dream; today she embodies the newest developing technology in video conferencing - Holograms. In the tradition of life imitating art, the hologram promises to take business dialogue where no business has gone before – LIVE, real time interaction between physical and virtual holographic bodies.     

Of course, Princess Leia is entertainment.

More recently, performance artists have created a buzz about incorporating holograms into their performance plans.  From Japan's holographic pop star, Hatsune Miku, as 2010's “J-pop avatar on tour [before] live audiences" to Samsung's singer/songwriter Leslie Feist in a triple-body appearance of simultaneous concerts on April 26, 2013, holograms have already taken to the stage.

Let's look at the business side.

Entertainment has planted the vision of possibilities and the seeds of hope and now business technology is creating a new reality.  “As cloud computing opens up the possibilities of remote working, people are turning to new, unified communications technologies to deliver the immediacy of an in-person meeting, while still being able to work from another location. “ says Jane McCallion in a recent article for ITPro.  

The keyword right now is “development” as several IT pioneers have joined the bidding war  for leadership to break the 3D wall in the business world.  Microsoft is developing these tools right now to create a proxy “’that gives the remote worker a true seat at the table, the ability to look around the room, turn to a colleague and have a side conversation,’” as stated in the company’s advert for a Principal Software Development Engineer.  In 2010 Intel unveiled a holographic presentation at their Technology Conference in Turkey. Despite the language barrier, the video is a compelling argument for the imminent marriage of entertainment and business technology for the conference room. 

Since we're discussing the vision of business in the future, let’s return to the cloud for a moment and consider the possibilities of next-generation business norms.  How helpful would it be to have everyone present at the weekly business meeting, even if they were out of town?  Patients could make virtual visits to their doctors and doctors could make virtual house calls.  Engineers walking through their designs would add dimension to project development.  Depositions might no longer require air fare and accommodations to prepare testimony and witnesses for legal a ctions.  There’s nothing more effective for recruitment than a face-to-face dialogue.  Students' and teachers' classroom interaction takes on new meaning in infinite variables.  While the types of meetings are varied, these scenarios all represent groundbreaking possibilities for video-conferencing in business.

Right now, it appears our IT visionaries have a ways to go before we have something practical to add to video conferencing services; however, lest you think this is just entertainment, remember how the telephone changed how we conduct business. 

Building The Future Of Collaboration

There is an interesting report conducted by Forrester, and commissioned by Adobe, on the future of collaboration.  The study surveyed knowledge workers about their requirements, habits, tools, concerns, & desired improvements when working with others to achieve business goals.

The study focused on 5 key areas of collaboration in the workplace:

Knowledge Workers Need For Real-Time Collaboration 

Findings show that work with dispersed teams is on the rise, and quite simply "email" does not meet our needs as an effective tool for communication & collaboration.  Here are some interesting percentages from the study: 

  • Daily (35%) or weekly (34%) collaboration is common for the majority of respondents.
  • 73% of knowledge workers in large enterprises (5,000+ employees) collaborate with people in different time zones and regions at least monthly, and 24% of them do so on a daily basis.
  • Telephone is used by 87% and, when possible, face-to-face meetings for 77% are the primary means of collaboration.
  • Email and attachments used by 77% comprise the primary mode of collaborating across
    boundaries of time and location.
  • Speed & efficiency of collaboration (68%) and reduction of paperwork (68%), are the top benefits sought when looking for improved ways to collaborate with others

The Web 2.0 Gap Between Tool Availability And Adoption

As we have seen better tools for communication & collaboration, the adoption rates for these tools still remain low.  The ultimate tool for collaboration, has yet to emerge.  The survey shows the following percentages for using new technologies: 

  • Video Conferencing only used by 11%, IM used by 25%, & team sites used by 17%
  • Social Networks used by 7%, Blogs (5%), & Wiki's (4%)
  • Confidence in the ability to improve collaboration is much higher, reaching 42% for video conferencing
  • Confidence in using newer technologies is highest among younger workers

Challenges In Gathering Information Quickly, Accurately, & Efficiently

In the study they talk about how increasingly distributed collaboration & team work requires knowledge workers to gather information from others.  The challenge is 63% of workers say they collect they same multiple pieces of information, from a number of people about once a month or more. 

  • Email (73%) and telephone (59%), are the most common methods for data gathering, but present some clear challenges:
    • Email creates extra work
    • The telephone is time consuming, & does not document results
  • Knowledge workers would would like current tools to:
    • Be faster & more efficient (66%)
    • Reduce the need to re-type gathered information (55%)
    • Reduce paper (51%)
    • Be more engaging (47%)

The Increasing Need To Create Compelling Communications

The respondents feedback supports the requirement to have more compelling & effective ways of communicating: 

  • 45% of knowledge workers need to create high-impact, engaging communications, once a month or more.  While 76% of these communications involve combining multiple documents of different file types (text, images, photos, graphics, videos, forms, technical docs & more), to tell a story, make an impression, or making a convincing argument
  • Most of the communication created are customer focused (47%)

Securing Sensitive Information

With increased collaboration, companies are more often exposing confidential & sensitive information. The survey found that knowledge worker behavior & attitudes are not in tune with enterprise IT concerns: 

  • More then half surveyed indicate they create & share sensitive information or documents every two or three weeks
  • To secure shared information, knowledge workers use PDF's and passwords - US based workers are far more likely (58%) to use software controls to protect sensitive information, compared to Europeans (38%)

Access the full report on Building The Future Of Collaboration.  

Adobe is putting on a Webinar to discuss this report on the following dates:

Building the Future of Collaboration Webinar

Sessions 1 will be on Thursday, December 3, 2009 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. US Pacific Time

Sessions 2 will be on Thursday, December 10, 2009 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. US Pacific Time

You can sign-up for this upcoming webinar here.


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