Giving Up E-mail for Social Software

Luis Suarez.Poor old e-mail, it's taking a right old beating at this conference. In fact, one speaker has given it up entirely. Luis Suarez isn't from a hipster startup, though. He works for IBM. Nine months ago, he decided that e-mail was making everyone else productive but not him. So he decided not to use it any more.

And IBM is a e-mail driven company - and a distributed one. He works for IBM Netherlands, he works from Gran Canaria, and reports to the US. That's a modern business.

There were two reactions from his colleagues:
• You'll be sacked in 2 weeks.
• Finally, somebody with the balls to tell the company to not use e-mail.
Nine months later, he still hasn't been sacked. He's down to 20 to 30 e-mails a week now, mainly calendering e-mails. Instead, he's mainly using social software, to prove the point.

E-mail is locked, private and prone to the power games of the CC and the BCC, he suggests. Social software is more transparent, because most of your activities happen in public, or semi-public spaces.  Suarez wanted to make his working practices more transparent, and that's important in the current situation.

The result? He's more in control of how he works. He no longer fights the corporation on e-mail. He hangs out with his communities, getting the job done. Adoption of social software happens within communities.

"'m more passionate about what I do, because I have a stronger feeling of community," he says.

The 2 to 3 hours a day people spend on e-mail he's spending in social tools with colleagues or customers. With customers, it's Facebook and Twitter, for example.

"You guys need to be the ones challenging [the corporate culture]," he told the Web 2.0 Expo crowd. "Go where your communities are - and work with them. E-mail doesn't give you trust, social tools do. "