You may have seen the story about Atos, the French company that banned email for its employees. According to one press report, “the company plans to completely eliminate email as a means of internal communication within the next 18 months… Atos will roll out a communication policy that features three kinds of messages:
– A new ‘real-time messaging’ platform — essentially, a business social network tool.”
I don’t see the General Services Administration (GSA) getting rid of email anytime soon, but I definitely understand the changes to the way people communicate and the challenges those changes present. As I’ve told countless IT audiences, the GSA is on the forefront of technological innovation in the federal government. GSA’s 12,000 employees can attest that an ongoing stream of technological advances have enriched their working lives, enhanced their skills, and sometimes provided a few unforeseen challenges.
Implementing innovative strategies within GSA also offers a range of benefits, from saving time and money to increasing productivity and reducing stress. GSA’s green, sustainable and aggressive use of technology is resulting in a simplification of our working lives by mirroring the consumer-friendly technology we use in our personal lives. And just as we expect at home, these technologies and systems are there to work for us, we’re not working for them.
We’ve moved into cloud computing and have begun to utilize a range of Google Apps. Google Docs, for instance, is a collaborative editing tool that is instrumental to GSA’s goal of achieving a zero environmental footprint (ZEF). Electronic records management through Google Docs allows better organization of records, and permits easy and immediate access for a team of workers. There’s no need to print or make copies, because documents are housed electronically, and updated in real time.
But GSA’s shift to the full suite of Google options – like Gmail and Google Calendar – is just one step into the latest in technology and innovation to cut clutter and simplify work. We’re adopting Salesforce to enhance collaboration among our project teams with products like Chatter, a private social network that will cut down on travel and meetings, as well as email.
One interesting statistic from GSA’s internal research regarding instant messaging is almost too obvious to report, yet has great implications: simply, the more GSA’s employees use instant messaging — the more they use it! In other words, once we’ve adapted to a new technology it becomes an integral part of our toolbox. And that’s our goal for utilizing technology to improve work: you don’t think about it, you just intuitively utilize it.
We estimate that GSA’s move to cloud computing will save more than $15.2 million over five years, much of it from eliminating costly data centers, software licenses, maintenance and contractor support. We’re excited at the technological advances we’ve adopted at GSA — and we’re still committed to email! — because we’re more productive and efficient. Our technological portfolio continues to grow, with the aim of streamlining the way GSA’s employees work.
In short, we’re working smarter, and leading the way as the federal government’s innovator.