I just read an article describing how one large company with 74,000 employees is replacing all internal email with instant messaging and social networking. The CEO who implemented this policy has not sent an email since he took over in 2008.
The only justification given for this policy is “only 10 percent of the 200 messages employees receive per day are useful and 18 percent is spam.” It is important to note that this policy is only for intra-company communications and does not include emails sent from outside partners or customers.
According to the article, the company is able to get by without internal email because they use Microsoft Office Communicator. I would imagine that if HR needs to send an email about employee benefits, they will just post it on their Intranet site and assume employees have an RSS feed or check the page periodically.
Personally, I find myself using instant messaging as a response to an email rather than keeping a thread going.
Office Communicator can keep a history inside Outlook within a folder called ‘Conversation History.’ This way, the user can still find records of a conversation using the same Outlook search to locate emails.
Additionally, Office Communicator has the ability to archive all conversations to a SQL database on the back-end (this is disabled by default and must be manually enabled by an Administrator).
Catapult has been using Microsoft’s Instant Messaging products since the LCS version (LCS –> OCS –> Lync Server 2010). Our productivity really improved when we replaced our phone systems with OCS three years ago. We also saved $300,000 over three years. We filmed a video case study here and the written case study is here.
There is another feature built into Outlook 2010 that I use all the time to cut down on unwanted emails. The Ignore button deletes any future emails on unwanted email threads.