Can Social Tools Really Replace Email?

Tele-commuter and IBM “social computing evangelist” Luis Suarez writes in the New York Times that he was able to cut down his weekly incoming email by 80 percent—seriously—by responding to messages that would normally start a chain reaction through wikis, blogs, and instant messaging instead. He also started picking up the phone more often to add a personal touch when needed:

I have had continuing support from my management in this effort, because I’ve been able to prove how much more I can accomplish by answering a question, and posting it on a blog, for example, than I can by answering the same question over and over. I still help people, but in a more open and collaborative fashion. Other people can join in the discussions — maybe they will have a better idea than mine.

Assuming you could convince your superiors to install the needed tools and let you give it a try, could you see yourself benefiting from internal social networking instead of endless email replies? How would you divvy up responses between the various outputs? Let’s hear the pros and cons of your theoretical (or real-life) work flow in the comments.

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