Greg Lambert 0000-00-00 00:00:00
The End of (Internal) Email? I have a love/hate relationship with email. It is the first thing I open up in the morning when the alarm clock goes off, and it is one of the last things I check before going to bed. I use it religiously — but I really would rather not be so reliant upon it. Unfortunately, since about 1995, it has become the primary communication tool for business. Your co-worker who works six feet away from you would rather email you a question than lean back in his or her chair and ask. It has become a de facto database of information. It has become a timeline of events. It has become a system used by many of us to keep everything we can — just in case someone questions us about something that happened 18 months ago. Put plainly: email has become a monster. Do we really need to use email all the time? Is it the best medium for communication? Is there something better? All of these questions have been asked for years, yet it still dominates business communication. However, there are some ideas that are happening in businesses that may finally challenge the idea that email is too ingrained in our business methods to go away. The crack in email’s armor may be those companies that ban its use among employees. There was big news last year when British information technology company Atos banned internal email, but is that something that others (including law firms) could emulate? I spoke with a legal recruiting company that has done just that. I won’t cover all the facts, but here are some of the reasons this company is giving up internal email. First, they realized that email is simply inefficient. Once you get more than two people on a chain, it can get messy in a hurry. They also realized that when people left the company, even if they still had their email files on their server, most of their business knowledge and experience history were tied up in those email files, and in reality, there was no good way to isolate that. In order to counter these factors, the company went with Yammer (yammer.com), a private social network for companies, for all internal communications. Yammer solved a few issues for them. First of all, it has a nice clean interface, and by setting up “groups” based on how employees worked, it allowed for members of the group to jump into the middle of a conversation and look back at discussions to get up-to-speed. It also allowed for files to be housed in their central document repository, rather than creating multiple copies distributed to everyone. In addition, once someone www.texasbar.com/tbj Vol. 75, No. 9 • Texas Bar Journal 677 leaves the company, the former employee’s public conversations are still there to be found long after the person has left. The thing that impressed me the most while talking to this group was the fact that other members of the company jumped in to the conversation to express how much they love this type of communication (this included younger as well as more experienced employees). They got excited while talking about this, and they would chime in with stories of how certain members were skeptical of banning internal email, but once they jumped into the process and saw the benefits, they were quickly converted to true believers. Email, like the telephone, will probably be around for generations to come. It is so easy and so built into most current business processes that it won’t go away any time soon. That doesn’t mean that other things won’t come in as alternatives. Whether it is Yammer, Instant Messaging, or a social media site such as a Facebook group page, or Google Plus, there are options that are real alternatives to email. I, for one, look forward to testing those alternatives and finding something else to wake up to in the morning. GREG LAMBERT is library and records manager at King & Spalding, L.L.P. in Houston. He received his J.D. and a Master’s in Library Science from the University of Oklahoma. He blogs at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog (geeklawblog.com), where this article originally appeared. It is reprinted here by permission of the author. TECHGEAR The new Kindle Fire HD tablet ($499 for 32 GB) offers an 8.9-inch display, 4G LTE wireless, and a 1.5Ghz dual-core processor. It also is available in a Wi-Fi-only model ($299). WEBLINKS SARA M. FOSKITT is a former staff attorney for Travis County District Court Judge Darlene Byrne and opened her own firm, the Foskitt Law Office, P.L.L.C., in Austin in 2009. In addition to her commercial and real estate litigation practice, Foskitt acts as local counsel in Travis County courts. She is the author of the Local Counsel Blog (foskittlaw.com/localcounsel). CNN/Google News (cnn.com/news.google.com) I’ll check these two websites a couple times per day to keep up with the daily news and will even check the mobile sites when I’m not near a computer. Austin360/Austin American-Statesman (Austin360.com) Again with my need to know the news! I especially like to know who the local players are and watch the local news closely. I also read the Austin 360 blogs, including “Out and About” by Michael Barnes. Travis County District Court (co.travis.tx.us/courts/civil/district) Travis County Court staff members do a great job maintaining a website that should be vital to any attorney who practices in Travis County courts. Travis County Civil Courts Online (civilcourtsonline.com) The Travis County Court Administrator’s Office is now accessible via the Civil Courts Online website, which allows attorneys to set hearings and announce ready for a hearing online. Attorneys can also access the system to see what hearings are set for specific cause numbers.
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