E-mail: The next thing of the past?

At least one company wants to phase out e-mail in favor of newer messaging technologies -- and older ones.

Is email outdated?

At least one technology CEO in France thinks so, and is working to phase out employee email within in 18 monhs. 

Thierry Breton, who is the chief executive of Atos and former minister of finance in France, argued in a recent speech in the United Kingdom that 90 percent of staff time spent on emails is wasted. He wants his workers to speak to each other by phone or in person, or to use instant messaging and Facebook-type interfaces for online communication instead.

"It is not normal that some of our fellow employees spend hours in the evening dealing with their emails," Breton said, according to a Nov. 28 report in the Telegraph. "The deluge of information will be one of the most important problems a company will have to face. It is time to think differently."

Breton has already adopted the new method for himself: "If people want to talk to me, they can come and visit me, call or send me a text message," said the 56-year-old exec, according to a Nov. 30 article in the Daily Mail. "Emails cannot replace the spoken word."

Atos is one of the largest IT companies in the world, employing about 80,000 people.

Breton said the zero e-mail policy could be in place within 18 months.

What do you think? Is email on the way out?