Atos: Fighting Inbox Overload One Email at a Time

Atos: Fighting Inbox Overload One Email at a Time

You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become a villain – Harvey Dent

Email was a hero.

It came to businesses as the ultimate communication tool, allowing communication online to thrive.  It still serves many purposes yet has recently lived to be considered by some as a workplace villain.  For years it idly functioned and some would say, made the Earth turn.  Yet, over dependence has transformed email, turning it lawless, robbing employees of their most precious asset.  While criminals infiltrate Gotham in schemes to loot money, email raids workers of their time.

 Enter the vigilante.

He isn’t cleaning the streets, he’s purging the tried and dated ways in which we work.  The new Batman isn’t Ben Affleck, it is French CEO Theirry Breton of Atos, an international information services company.  Breton’s Gotham is global, employing 76,000 employees across 47 countries worldwide.  His heroic and lofty goals for Atos were results of his distaste for email’s recent habit of stealing 25% of the average work day.  Thus in 2011 it was announced that Breton was taking action against email and transforming Atos to be completely email-free.

He isn’t alone.

Like any good hero, Breton is equipped with a specific set of tools that have led to his success.  Bruce Wayne isn’t the only hero with vast technology at his disposal.  Atos teems with strong executive leadership and dedication, clear and unified goals, as well as a Robin-like sidekick, blueKiwi.  Atos purchased blueKiwi and its enterprise social network, ZEN, which was immediately implemented company wide.  This was implemented in 2012 and now, at the end of 2014, the company has seen a 60% reduction rate in the number of emails sent.

The modern sidekick dominates the business world.

Why do blueKiwi and Atos work together as well as Batman and Robin?  Transforming a city to zero villains takes collaboration, time, planning, and effort.  Transforming a company to Zero Email requires the same force.  It isn’t as simple as cutting email out of all employee’s lives.  With thousands of employees across the world, such drastic changes take time and sincere dedication at all levels of the corporation.  The Zero Email campaign has seen constant requirements in excellent leadership, continuous positivity, and complete cohesiveness as a company.

Agents for change:

  • Heroic Leaders
    • 5000 senior staff are certified as Zero-Email and have gone through extensive training in how to use new technology, especially how to manage it, teach it, and encourage it.  Atos heavily invested in extensive training for managers so they would easily be able to lead employees through changes and activate the readiness and passion to make them work.
    • Through the blueKiwi platform, leadership becomes collaborative when employees are empowered to post their own ideas and participate directly with higher level leaders of the company.
    • Much like days back in the classroom, Atos believes that leading teams should be based on participation – at every level.


  • Heroic Headlines:
    • “Change agents” are required to report success stories from Atos offices across the globe.  Stories are actively sought out from offices worldwide and come from all levels of the company.  Success stories are important to broadcast outside of the company for positive publicity, but they serve as powerful motivators internally. Atos employees felt ignited to hear success stories that were relatable and in turn felt more motivated to participate in the drastic changes.
    • It is important to include stories of success from all levels of management and from all over the world.  This allows all employees to feel united in the company and have a clear vision for where the company is headed.
    • Gartner reports that Atos even designated “lighthouse communities” which serve as models to what success looks like.
    • Enterprise social networks often fail or are unsuccessful because of the struggle to gain executive support and use.  Executives and leaders within Atos created this success story by committing to leading by example.


  • Unyielding determination
    • Making permanent changes in a company the size of Atos requires dedication from all at every level. 3500 Atos Zero Email Ambassadors have driven this change internally
    • Goals set by CEO Thierry Breton were not only broadcasted company-wide, they were broadcasted worldwide.  His desire to create a completely email-free company was broadcasted all over the world.
    • Whether it was a drop in the number of emails or an increase in customer satisfaction, all data was regularly tracked and publicized throughout the company.