But Breton had realized that an overload of e-mail was crippling efficiency. He contended that only 10 percent of the 200 e-mails his employees receive on an average day are useful.
From May 2014, Atos abolished e-mail for internal communication. "Zero mail is a lighthouse position. It's a massive cultural change program," says Avinash Velhal, Group CIO-IMEA, Atos.
Velhal recounts his experience as the company transitioned to a zero e-mail strategy. "Atos had e-mail-based internal processes, so when it had to implement the 'zero e-mail' policy the organization studied those processes, got people to look into them, and eliminated mail-based processes.
"Now, Atos is using an internal social network called blueKiwi. We have reduced our dependency on mails considerably," he says.
According to Velhal, eliminating e-mail has introduced benefits. "The strategy has dramatically improved productivity, reduced distraction, and increased transparency and trust within the company," says Velhal.
Velhal and the folks in Atos aren't alone in their belief that e-mail can be replaced.
"The proper implementation of service automation can replace the barrage of e-mails that flow in and out of mailboxes," says Anand Iyer, CIO, NCDEX.
While an e-mail is a piece of point-to-point communication, a request made in a service automation tool makes it available to all concerned.
"A single request in service automation enters a new record that enriches the data required to give to-the-point MIS. Tracking and tracing becomes easier and this avoids countless phone calls to the service desk by an enthusiastic user to find out the status of his or her request. Service personnel welcome the transparency it brings to the organization. Supervisors are also happy about the fact that dashboards give real-time updates of the service levels, not only to them, but the entire organization," Iyer says.
"At NCDEX, the entire process of SDLC and change requests is through service automation and it has bought about an atmosphere of transparency and collaboration between IT and business users," he says.
Sharma believes that Employees Self Service (ESS) and Managers Self Service (MSS) provide visibility among application users like HRMS and other business applications which requires approval in hierarchy. "Service automation also creates transparency in the whole process and builds a very good knowledge bank," he says.
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