Thierry Breton caused a sensation last week when he told an interviewer that he planned to ban internal email at the information technology services giant, Atos.
His comments sparked a series debate across the mainstream media and the blogosphere. The idea was described as both "bold" and "stupid", with some writers betting that the proposal would be ditched before the self-imposed 2014 zero-email deadline.
He is the former chief executive and chairman of France Telecom, served as France's minister of economy, finance and industry for two years and lectured at Harvard Business School before joining Atos three years ago and success could herald a turning point for email, failure would prove damaging for his company's credibility.
In his interview with the BBC he explained the reasons behind his decision:
"I did it to enhance the quality of working conditions for our 80,000 employees. This is part of a global initiative that we initiated in ATOS almost three years ago called "Wellbeing At Work". Their mission, in addition to their normal job, is to provide new ideas to enhance working conditions.
They put on the table the fact that most of the young people that we were hiring were not using email anymore after graduating from universities".
He genuinely thinks his employees welcome the zero-email policy plan. They were instead mainly using instant messaging tools and social networks like Facebook - and for most of them, when they joined Atos it was first time they had ever worked with internal email tools like [Microsoft] Outlook.
As a Programme manager working for Technology companies I spend way too much time on internal emails and not enough time on management the project.
"So when we put all this together I started an in-depth study with our consulting practice to see how many internal emails the 80,000 employees of Atos were receiving. We found on average it was over 100 emails per day, after further analysis, we realised they found 15% of the messages useful, and the rest was lost time but they had a fear that they would miss something and we realised they were spending 15 to 20 hours a week checking and answering internal emails".
He also explained that he himself didn't use internal emails even when he was the chairman of France Telecom but, he does use instant messaging - and of course external email.
"Since making this announcement we've experienced a 20% decrease in our own internal email.”
I believe he also is correct when he says that internally you use it more and more as a communication tool, or to store your own content, or to protect yourself from your boss or whoever - people don't use use it the way it was intended to be used.
I think we'd all agree that the vast majority of internal email are a waste of our time and ATOS say that a 20% decrease in internal email just because people have become more careful.
He believes that businesses will probably continue to have internal emails for the next 10 to 15 years but, some companies will move quickly to these internal social networks and instant messaging tools - and again this will be pushed by the young generation who also don't have such a dependency on emails.
New tools are being developed and used now that will replace internal email - a cloud computing environment, social networks, instant messaging, micro blogging, document sharing, knowledge community - these offer a much better approach for an information technology company.
I for one will now begin to adopt this policy in future engagements and I'm sure it will enhance the quality of my projects.
See the full story on the BBC