1 June 2006
Omer Ben Yehuda
[Based on an article by Robert Smallwood]
Twenty years ago, all documents were printed on paper. Nowadays, 60%-70% of companies' essential business information is documented in email. In 2006, the estimated amount of messages is an astounding 40 billion. An average worker receives vast amounts of email and saves them for different reasons: saving correspondences for either a database or as backup. Furthermore, the worker shares the meal by mobilizing it in the organization.
We all find saving, retrieving and sharing the knowledge saved in the email effectively quite difficult. Forwarding the messages multiplies them and loads the already overloaded email system and creates unmonitored versions of the same information. Due to the difficulty to store, manage and retrieve this information which in turn is due to the increase of transportation and the fact that email has become a central area in the organization, Email Management tools (EMM) were developed.
Choosing the correct and appropriate tool for managing email in the organization is critical, since the tool will serve the organization for the following years and if this job is done correctly it will save the functionaries a pain as well as loss of resources and possibly fines/jail. Proof of the importance organizations relate to the issue is the fact that these projects are funded by management rather than IT departments.
The basic knowledge needs related to email management are sorting, shared filing and searching. Nevertheless, these systems also provide services for managing and "capturing" messages, as well as storing, retrieving, monitoring, filtering and blocking access to them. They even catalogue messages according to data in the message's summary (Subject, to, from, cc, Time, Date). A positive side effect is reducing the load on IT.
There are various tools for email managing available nowadays:
The best ones implement complex business rules (what to file where) in order to maintain a shared knowledgebase with a retrieving engine.
The infrastructural ones interface for many email systems (Lotus, Microsoft Exchange, SunOne messaging, Bloomberg Mail, Notes/Domino etc).
The efficient ones emphasize storing and substantial savings instead of storing.
Some of the systems are designated yet most are included in wider ECM (Enterprise Content Management) systems, together with WCM (Web Content Management) systems, document management systems, BPM support systems etc.
Is this a new trend for creating the complementing systems to the ERP, this time on the softer side of information? Time will tell.