Windows 8: a key enabler of "Zero Email"?


Posted on: January 11, 2013 by Nicolas Roux

Atos - Windows 8: a key enabler of “Zero Email”?

Let's face it, with its new "Modern UI" interface, Windows 8 is far to get unanimity.

Ones who love it blame Microsoft for not having fully eradicated the traditional desktop, leading to an inconsistent and weird user experience "That's just a start menu, not an interface!".

Ones who hate it blame Microsoft for enforcing radical and counter-intuitive changes in the user experience without transition “If Windows 8 is not easier to use than Windows XP, I will just keep Windows XP!"

Still, the fate of Windows 8 might not be doomed. Its new interface might be a key enabler of a "Zero Email" strategy, and enterprise should seriously consider deploying it for that purpose.

The focal contact point issue

One of the key challenges with email dependence is what I would call the "focal point issue".

Yes we get too many emails. Yes email has been corrupted and diverted for multiple usages for which far smarter tools than an email client exists, from conversations to document collaboration to business processes. But email has one big advantage that makes us prefer it to other tools: it is a focal contact point. Getting everything in the same repository is just convenient. To know what's hot, I just open my email inbox on Monday morning. In fact, I already know since I also get my emails on my smartphone. I spend a lot of time sorting out, filtering, answering; but I'm not missing anything, using a single app.

Teenagers do not use email? True, but they still do have a focal point. They just prefer another tool for that, Facebook.

Most collaboration platforms and Enterprise Social Network are still sending us flows of notifications emails? By fear we don't check them regularly they use our focal contact point to inform us.

In other words, men are not fit for multitasking...

Zero email strategy and the loss of focal contact point

Atos Zero-Email strategy is far from empty intention statements. It is based on very concrete action plans to eradicate email usage. As in most problem-solving approaches, this goes through a segmentation of the "big issue" in multiple "small problems" that are tackled one by one. A good illustration is the huge work currently on-going to ensure that our business processes are not using any email, even simply for notification.

But because of the segmentation, this results in a combination of multiple answers, tools and applications to replace email in specific purposes. I get leaner processes, I get smarter tools, but I lose my focal contact point.

Then which app should I open on Monday morning to know what's hot?

How Windows 8 answers that issue

The "live tile" concept of Windows 8 new interface is providing a neat answer. On Monday morning, I won't open any specific app, but will just look at my home screen where I get notifications. This will provide me a summary view of each of the multiple tools I will use to replace email. The Windows 8 home screen will become my focal contact point.

I will personalize it with tiles for all the "zero email" applications I will use:  activity in all the collaboration spaces I subscribed to, changes in databases, overview of  requests pending for my approval, presence from my teams in the corporate IM tool, new documents published, status of board reviews, market watch data, …

Thanks to the active summary data in each tile, the Windows 8 interface can really be used as a personal dashboard. And thanks to the consistent user experience, I might even be tempted to get a Windows 8 phone or a Windows 8 tablet to enjoy the same 'professional dashboard' on the go.

That is why enterprises should consider rolling out Windows 8, focusing on integration of corporate applications in the new user interface. It might be far from being a perfect operating system, but if this can be a key enabler of a "Zero Email" strategy, it should worth the deployment costs and the change management program it will require.


Image source: Microsoft.com (Microsoft Windows 8 interface)

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About Nicolas Roux

Procurement Director UK&I and member of the Scientific Community
Nicolas has been in the IT industry for 15 years, leading many consulting and integration projects. He held several positions within Atos Managed Services prior joining the Procurement organization. He is also an active member of the Atos scientific community since its creation in 2009.

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