Question: How Many Emails Are Sent Every Day?
Answer: Statistics, extrapolations and counting by Radicati Group from August 2008 estimate the number of emails sent per day (in 2008) to be around 210 billion.
Analysis: That’s a shed-load of email.
The storing and retrieval of all these emails has become a necessity for most businesses, especially now that good governance prescribes it, and no fewer than five local acts require the storage of all email sent or received for up to 10 years. That’s every email from the 🙂 reply to your PA when she reminded you of your daughter’s birthday to the written warning sent to an employee in May 2007 to the instruction to your broker to sell your shares.
The acts that demand effective storage of email include Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECT Act), the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communications-Related Information Act (Interception Act), the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act (FAIS), National Archives of South Africa Act and the Companies Act.
In addition, The King II report, which guides South African companies on what constitutes good corporate governance, requires companies to identify and mitigate risk. The risk of reputation damaging litigation due to lost, irretrievable or corrupted email is vast and it is incumbent on businesses to protect themselves and their stakeholders from this.
While the small print details in each Act differ, the common thread is that email needs to be stored for long periods, must be easy and quick to find and tamper proof. The reason is to prevent litigation, financial penalties, HR privacy issues and reputation damage to companies. In today’s world, an email is often a company’s or an individual’s only defence against the attack of a disgruntled employee, supplier or client.
The challenges are vast and include the cost of storing millions of emails in a way that doesn’t erode the integrity of the mail; the infrastructure to retrieve and archive the emails and the people to manage it all. This isn’t just about a few servers down in the data room. It’s become about making sure that every email is one ‘search phrase’ away.
There are a few things that companies can do to get it right.
Remember – archiving is not a job for employees
Automate as much as possible. Expecting users to take responsibility for archiving is just setting you and your staff up for failure and a mountain of written warnings.
Don’t change a thing
If the email has been changed in any way its power as a piece of evidence is eroded. Using immutable storage together with encryption technology can ensure that a ‘forensically sound’ copy can be sourced. This is vital in any legal situation where the only piece of evidence between your company and a hefty fine is one small email.
Make sure it’s easily retrievable
Store the email in a way that makes it easy to search for. We have heard horror stories from clients where it has taken 7 straight days to locate one email because it was all stored on tapes which required a person to physically go through data on each and every tape.
Tell people that it’s going on
Remember to inform your staff that every email is going to be stored, archived and saved for 10 years. The communication has a few positive outcomes:
It should stop any ‘fruity’ emails being sent and received
Users are confident to delete emails as they can search the store should they need them. This means smaller active mail boxes which means fewer IT issues
While the words ‘email compliance’ make it all sound like a legal requirement rather than a good business process, most our our customers have realised returns on their investment immediately; not when the lawsuit comes up.
Correctly managing your company’s communication can only benefit the business and considering that up 80% of an organisation’s newly developed Intellectual Property (IP) can be found in its emails, it makes sense to make sure none of them get away.
Product Strategist at Mimecast South Africa