With the rise of litigation and other legal issues affecting business, it becomes increasingly important for companies to have a coherent way to track, evaluate and store their e-mail traffic, says Scott W. Burt, president of Integro. Making matters even more complicated, both the volume and size of e-mail messages are expanding at a rapid rate. Companies that are unprepared for the laborious process of "e-discovery" during litigation will find it difficult to sort through and locate all of the relevant messages. But failure to do so properly can expose a business to substantial damages.
Approximately 80 percent of all corporate e-mails don't need to be retained. "It's not a sound business practice just to keep everything," Burt says. The trick, he says, lies in determining which are the 20 percent that need to be stored for possible future recovery.
E-mail archiving systems are evolving to address the problem. And IT heads and corporate counsels are becoming more aware of the need for such technology. Burt says state-of-the-art systems rely on both automated classification as well as human judgment. "You should auto-classify as much as possible, but e-mail is so unstructured that it's never going to be 100 percent," he says. "You need to keep end-users involved in a smooth, fast and efficient way."
When it comes to archiving, a business needs to have a central repository for e-mails, so that they can be removed from the active mail server. Saving a message just once makes it much easier for the IT department to respond to multiple requests for the same e-mail.
The biggest beneficiaries of a sophisticated e-mail management system are large companies with deep pockets and heavy exposure to litigation. The complexity of the challenge is magnified "many times" by the number of employees, size of the content and the legal cases that a given company faces, says Burt.
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