By Maximilian Clarke

Atos, the French IT firm, grabbed headlines on Thusday after committing to ban internal emails by 2014. Emails, explained the corporation’s CEO, Thierry Breton, were slowing productivity by contributing to ‘information pollution’.

Reacting to the announcement, Bob Pike, Chief Operating Officer of social business specialist, SITEFORUM, argues that the way in which information is shared is evolving and that by applying the open collaboration demonstrated so effectively by leading social networks to business, significant gains in productivity can be achieved.

“In the corporate world, business is still addicted to email culture — even though encapsulating knowledge in a (usually Microsoft) file and sending multiple copies to selected colleagues on a need-to-know basis is hopelessly inefficient,” said Pike. “However working practices are beginning to change as the benefits of adopting more social communication become too apparent to ignore.

“Social networking is now so prolific in everyday life, that the new generation of the world’s workforce has grown up expecting constant, direct and real-time communication with whomever they wish. By tapping into this culture, businesses can organically adopt social networks for internal communications and as a result become more social organisations overall; in all senses of the word.

“The recent upsurge in enterprise interest in social tools for use within the organisation, as well as with customers and partners, was inevitable. And with many companies thinking about much more effective collaboration, and unlocking the huge potential of internal knowledge in more social ways, we will see a shift to more inclusive collaboration on open platforms.

“This has the potential to improve productivity by speeding up the conversations people would usually have over email, combined with the convenience of sender authentication almost entirely eliminating unwanted messages.”

Case study

Odgers Berndtson relies on SITEFORUM’s platform for its Management Information System (MIS) which provides real-time business information in the UK, China, Hong Kong and the Middle East. The software automatically delivers bespoke internal reports from every sector of the company providing timely executive information and eliminating previous manual processes.

The MIS also includes a Crisis Management communications solution, which enables consultants and support staff to continue vital business activities and minimise client impact during disruptive events. Integration with the SITEFORUM community platform and SMS gateway enables all employees to be contacted in the event of an emergency providing updates and advice.

The social intranet, which is hosted by SITEFORUM, provides a single point of reference for employees across the company. Adam Gibson, Odgers Berndtson CIO, comments, “The social intranet humanises the company’s internal interface and allows our employees to more easily share information, knowledge and industry expertise.”

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