There’s a really interesting article on CIO.com with Ross Mayfield, the co-founder of Socialtext. In it, he talks about how wikis can end ‘Reply-All’ email threads.
Luis Suarez of IBM has taken it a step further, and on 15th February gave up on work related email. The idea would be that he would refuse to respond or initiate email communication and would instead communicate via social networking tools such as those provided internally by IBM. If you read a little closer, he doesn’t completely give up on email, and recognises that for certain private conversations where sensitive information is exchanged, email is still a must. I see nothing wrong with this exception – no-one ever said email was fundamentally bad, just that it wasn’t always used for the right purpose. Also, I am guessing that Luis is internally facing, or that this applies to internal email only. I can’t really see a brand sales rep at IBM stopping using email to communicate with customers (although am happy to be proved wrong!)
Another interesting point is that he claims to receive, on a busy day, 30-45 emails. I personally think this is somewhat on the low side, I was always suspicious of people who claimed to go away for 5 days and come back to 2,000 unread emails (average of 400 per day), but I have certainly gone through periods of my life where 100 (on a busy day) was not unusual.
However, the results are still interesting, even if we take the case study as a low-volume email user who communicates mainly internally. It appears as if people took the hint and stopped sending Luis email. The results were most dramatic at the beginning, where the volume dropped from 35/day (175 per week) to 45 in the first week. The drop off has continued, but at a slower pace as shown here:
So we have a drop from 175-45 (75%) at the start and then a further 45-35 (22%) in the subsequent weeks. This has a significant impact for those who are looking for an ROI for internal Web 2.0 projects:
Time saved = 140 * 5 mins per email = 700 mins / 5 day week = 11h:40m.
In a 40 hour working week lets say thats 25% to keep things easy (estimates that 25% of employees time is spent on email is not unfounded)
Take a 30-man company with a £1,000,000 payroll, that’s a saving of £250,000 (ok, so I know it doesn’t quite work like that, but the point is that signifcant savings are available and this technology is effective even for small organisations)
Not only that, but give each individual an extra 10 hours in their week and that’s more time sellers can sell, more time consultants can charge and more time R&D can innovate. You’ll gain much more than £250,000 on your top line than you’ll squeeze off the bottom line! Luis claims to be productive from the moment he starts work, rather than the inevitable drop in productivity as we all catch-up with emails that have come in overnight or after a day away from the office.
I’ll be posting more on Wiki ROI in the upcoming days…