GroupWise: The Shape of Email

I was recently sent an analyst paper that described some very interesting facts and figures concerning email, your inbox, and how to manage it. I thought that I would share some of that information with the GroupWise community to see if your experience mirrors the information presented in this report.

The report states:
Email is a continually changing entity within the organization. For those responsible for managing email and devising strategies to improve its value to the business, there are several factors to consider. Surprisingly, the research suggests that email security is not a wholesale preoccupation for IT professionals. There is a professional level of concern about the preservation of email integrity and sensitivity to risk, but, the response to security risk, like the risk itself, seems mostly under control.

What is in your Inbox?

Determining the quality and value of your inbox is important to know just how to manage it. Here are a few facts from this report that show some very interesting statistics.

  • Only 25% of emails are considered essential for work purposes, with an additional 14% of critical importance

  • 13% of work email is personal, not related to work at all

  • 40% of work email is either functional or of low level importance

  • On average, 63% of email is internal, employee-to-employee communication

  • Businesses that have higher levels of essential or critical emails are likely to be larger companies with smaller inboxes

What do you think? Does this match your inbox? What about the inbox of your power users?

Do you archive?

Maybe the real question is what do you do to improve the quality of your inbox? In this case, size matters and the smaller the inbox, the higher the quality of the content. There are many strategies that have been written about which provide some best practices on how to manage your inbox and the email information you are collecting. Some books like..."Getting things done" have great ideas on how to optimize your email reading, filing, managing time. In addition, there are 'empty inbox' strategies to help keep you on top of the inbox flow. These strategies really target keeping your inbox/mailbox as lean as possible and dealing with everything in your mailbox by the end of the day.

This report also states that no matter how you deal with your mailbox, the cost of all of those items eventually are passed on to the company in one form or another. Either via disk storage, archive solutions, eDiscovery mining, or simply lost productivity because you are constantly filtering, searching, or reading the same emails over and over. This is the main reason for the suggestion of keeping your main mailbox/inbox as lean as possible.

Here are some facts that deal with most company's archiving strategies

  • There remains a lack of consensus on archiving strategy

    • 49% of organizations archive automatically

  • 45% of organizations archive manually - of those, 21% by auto prompt

  • 20% of organizations store archived emails on local disk drives

  • Only 30% of archived emails contain all deleted mail

Quality Inboxes

As mentioned above, the quality of your inbox says a lot about the management of your inbox. Here is what this report had to say about a few of the characteristics of a quality inbox:

- Smaller size (MB)
- Present in larger businesses
- Higher percentage of internal email
- Higher instance in IT/Telco & Public Sector

Email Security

The less managed your email system is, the higher risk of security issues. This comes mostly from SPAM and email viruses - which is the biggest concern of IT professionals. It also comes from the increase in mobile access or remote access to your email system. The less managed your email system also accounts for a larger percentage of email downtime. Email downtime for maintenance, security threats, or access violations really drive the level of concern according to this report.

In conclusion

The concluding remarks from this report state:
"Research shows that whilst the majority of organizations archive their email in-house, or on centralized servers (58%), nearly 1 in 5 do so off-site (18%), rising to almost a quarter among UK companies (24%). As many as 20% of organizations store their archived emails on local disk drives, which can present an audit risk."

"Defining email best practice in terms of spam prevention, up time and inbox size management is common sense for IT professionals. Managing archiving in an automated, resource-efficient and compliant way is the next step in email management strategy, one that many companies in the survey need to address. Beyond this, the future of information exchange is being significantly influenced by the integration of ‘socialized’ communication and sophisticated management of content filtering, search and data capture to increase user information quality. Managing these factors over time will improve the ‘shape’ of email, whilst ignoring them will be detrimental to user productivity and information quality. Defining that strategy is a work in progress for most businesses, but the following recommendations form a starting point for a content, social and archive framework that IT professionals should consider."

I credit this report to The name of the report is 'The Shape of Email'. Please see their site for additional information and details and for access to this research report in its totality.



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