November 17, 2015:
When French company Atos declared a few years ago that it wanted to bring down its internal email use to zero by using an enterprise social network (ESN), most people didn't think it would work. However, two years into the move, a Gartner study found that the company's earnings per share went up by over 50 per cent and admin costs went down to 10 per cent from 13 per cent. Though not all of it may be linked with the reducing in internal email, there is a definite correlation.
Intellect Design Arena has been using its ESN (earlier Octopus) for over two years."The biggest challenge in our organisation was that all the information was in silos. In the last two years the effort required for developing a project has gone down by 12 per cent. 1.3 million hours of unproductive time (per year) that was spent on email has been freed up towards productive work across 12,000 employees," says Shashi Mohan, CTO & CIO, Intellect Design Arena. To make sure that employees actually use this platform and not email, 74 per cent of the 4,000 Intellect employees don't even have an email id."I'm at a senior level so I have an email account but when I have to communicate with my team, I don't have a choice but to use this platform," says Mohan.
Microsoft has a whole suite of products which it uses internally as well as offers clients."Enterprise social describes a new way of working that taps into the power of human networks," says Alok Lall, Director - Apps & Services Marketing, Microsoft India. For instance, Bajaj Finance modified its go-to-market strategy on the back of interactions and learnings that happened as employees started collaborating online."Employees on field were able to share feedback on the go, which would earlier take them 5-10 days after a campaign," says Lall.
At Intellect, the onboarding process has shrunk from eight weeks to two, and Mohan says that attrition has dropped by close to 30 per cent, in large part because of the options available to look for alternate roles across the organisation through the ESN. At IBM, the behaviour change is driven from the top, says Gaurav Sharma, Director - Social Solutions, Smarter Workforce & Internet of Things, IBM India/South Asia."The 'Personal Social Dashboard' gives individual scores across areas and there is also a comparison versus the department & organisation which builds positive competition within the team," he says. Innovative approaches to drive employee traffic also helps. In the early days of launching Unmail, Intellect started updating the IPL scores on the platform to prompt people to spend more time there instead of logging onto another news portal.
However, most organisations maintain that internal emails can never be done away with completely. A key reason here is privacy and accountability. With employees discussing strategy over instant messenger and chat, it can become difficult to pin responsibility if things go wrong. VC Gopalratnam, President, IT and CIO - APJ&C, Chief of Strategy, Planning & Operations, Cisco, points out,"In cases where documentation is needed, email and other forms of communication will continue to be used even as instant messaging and social chats etc. become more and more acceptable forms of documentation."