An Integro White Paper
When one thinks of a monster, you likely drudge up some sort of creature that wreaks havoc at will, always lurking behind the scenes waiting for the most inopportune time to appear, then emerging and causing untold damage to everything in its path as it rages out of control. The worst kind of monster being the one that continues to grow unchecked.
Ironically, this same description fits company email when it is unceremoniously archived en masse. It sits quietly squirreled away in massive files, expanding at incredible rates, stockpiling seemingly harmless dialog. As the email archive balloons, it consumes ever more resources and then without warning surfaces surprising conversations that create a potentially harmful scenario for the company as it faces litigation. Fortunately, there is a way to effectively get control and manage this monster to reduce risk, avoid runaway archiving costs and improve litigation preparedness.
Five to six years ago, email management was thought of as an interesting idea but it seemed easier to stick with the prevailing philosophy of storing everything forever. Storage was believed to be cheap, search was easy and most tools to manage email were considered cumbersome.
What executives didn’t foresee when making this decision was that the exponential growth in content, combined with the increase in litigation activity and heightened threat of breach, would end up making the ‘store everything’ decision an unsustainable approach of monstrous proportions.
Doing The Math
According to the Radicati Group’s Email Statistics Report, 2015-2019, in 2015, the number of business emails sent and received per user per day totals 122 emails per day. This figure continues to show growth and is expected to average 126 messages sent and received per business user by the end of 2019.
When you consider an employee handles approximately 122 emails a day, the volume of email for a 5000-person organization over a work week of five business days would be more than 3 million emails. Over a year that would be more than 220 million emails.
The volume of business information being retained has come into focus as organizations see their Information Technology budgets rapidly being consumed by the ever-growing cost to store the burgeoning volumes of information.
Not only is archiving all your email expensive in terms of gobbling up today’s available dollars, it is also eating away at the organization’s ability to evolve since strategic initiative funding must be sacrificed to the burden of storage costs.
Frightening Thoughts for Corporate Counsel
When the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were modified in 2006 to address the issue of electronically stored information (ESI), it changed the handling of electronic evidence which in turn changed the way cases are argued and evidence is collected and preserved. It became clear to the business world that eDiscovery was challenging, costly and extremely difficult to manage. Although the need exists to be ‘eDiscovery ready’---having proper governance and defensible preservation and disposition of ESI (including email)--- achieving success in this area still seems elusive for most organizations.
Besides the risk of over retaining information by archiving everything, it is simply too expensive during the eDiscovery process to sort through all the electronic water cooler chat that happens on a daily basis to find evidence germane to pending litigation. Any company that has ever had to write a check to cover eDiscovery costs knows they need to find a better solution than wholesale archiving of email content.
They also know that without changing their email management strategy, each eDiscovery will become ever more costly with more email to search through and more email that matches preservation criteria.
Enforcing email management polices has also been further complicated by the growth in the disconnected user base resulting from expanded access capabilities. Employees may be accessing the mail system from a smartphone, tablet or other existing or future devices or access points, yet organizations still need to enable email management policies regardless of how their employees are interacting with the system.
Attempts at Dealing with the Email Monster
To date, business policy regarding the retention management of email was established not based upon what was proper and best for the business, but instead upon the limited tools available to enforce policy. This unfortunate reality has fostered ineffective email management policies of the past decade including:
- Keeping it all – the most common archiving mistake from the last decade which has caused the over-retention challenges we see in this decade.
- Placing mailbox size quota on the whole mailbox--- ignoring the value of individual emails. When the users hit the limit and find themselves in ‘email jail,’ users sort by size and delete the largest emails. Thus keeping the clutter of smaller emails and likely losing important emails.
- Personal over-archiving – many firms addressed the system storage problem by allowing users to save email in files on their local hard drive. This only enabled user over-retention and exposes firms to massive eDiscovery headaches and costs.
- Deleting all email at “x” number of days – this obviously fails considering that records do exist in email and the company is wholesale disposing of them. It is also highly disruptive to end users and they’ll pursue workarounds causing even greater issues for information governance.
The above approaches fail considering that it is not the age, size, sender or recipient that determines the value of individual messages. The value of email messages, just like with paper, is determined by what the message says. Most messages are transient, and of fleeting value. A few emails document the business of the organization, and others are helpful to the users in performing their job duties. Thus, classification of email based upon content value is imperative. Two divergent camps have emerged:
- Auto classification – while attractive for obvious reasons, this has proven unsuccessful due to the costs and level of effort required to train the auto classification software, and considering the highly unstructured, colloquial and brief nature of email.
- Manual classification – While users know their email the best, many attempts have suffered due to the approaches and tools provided to enable the user to do this easily and quickly.
The best approach has proven to be an elegant blend of auto and manual classification. Automation and ease-of-use are critical, and the time expiration and size quota features must be leveraged intelligently. This, combined with executive support and good communications, enables firms to achieve the goal of proper email retention and governance, including defensible disposition of the majority of email as transient content.
Landing on the Critical Fix List
The original driver of email management was systems efficiency and regulations in the securities industry, which led to archiving. Archiving all email has simply proven untenable. The new drivers can be summarized as:
- Reduce risk posed by email that was unnecessarily retained
- Reduce eDiscovery costs of searching and reviewing oceans of clutter
- Reduce runaway storage costs
Any one or a combination of these factors has caused email management to rise to the top of many organizations’ critical fix list.
Managing the Email Monster with Value-Based Information Governance
Most organizations are moving envelopes through their email system but they don’t know what is in them. With Integro Email Manager™, organizations gain visibility into what is inside the envelope so that informed decisions can be made, based on actual content versus basic email identifiers, and avoid an embarrassing and perhaps costly surprise email surfacing in the future.
Integro Email Manager offers value-based information governance that applies Auto Classification with Human Oversight™, customized to meet your specific business needs. It enables your organization to:
- Properly retain and govern what’s important
- Dispose of what you don’t need as early as possible
- Avoid disrupting the productivity of the end user
When email is received, Integro Email Manager automatically evaluates the content of all messages and calculates its value. Typically this evaluation will only identify a few messages that qualify as relevant business communications – a business record. These few messages, that exceed the set probability thresholds, will then be declared and classified automatically as records. If Integro Email Manager’s confidence rating on a message is close to record caliber, a suggestion will be offered to the user with its confidence rating and suggested records category.
Importantly, the employee remains in control and can change the classification based on their personal knowledge of the email. This type of consideration is only necessary on a few of the messages received each day and only takes a moment. Users can also quickly tag messages as records when email is sent, or use their own folders to auto-tag messages as records. The same tagging method also enables users to keep messages longer in a centrally-managed, personal storage. The majority of messages will be auto disposed per a transient, short retention policy.
The Integro solution includes SmartAssist®, which uses contextual classification to provide suggestions. SmartAssist is initially trained with example emails but then continues to learn on the fly at the user level as it receives feedback based on user work patterns. SmartAssist is unique to Integro Email Manager and enables companies to gain the support of its workforce to achieve the goals of true value based retention.
Integro Email Manager eases cultural adoption because you can start with generous retention periods and refine policy overtime in a stepped fashion. Employees are able to remain in control of their individual work habits as they create and name their own folders they plan to use. With a click of a button these custom folders map to the corporate file plan. In addition to self-managed folders, users can tag the few important messages where they are, anywhere in the mailbox, to be retained longer for personal use or as company records. Most importantly, emails can be tagged as the message is sent and all internal recipients easily see the records designation.
Integro Email Manager (IEM) is the only proactive email content management solution for Notes, Exchange, and Office365, enabling organizations to keep what’s important and eliminate what’s not. IEM can govern email in place or can be integrated with leading ECM systems.
While this solution can assist companies across industries, it is an ideal fit for any company that has any one or combination of the following attributes:
- Large base of email users; typically starting at around 2,000 employees
- Regulated industries
- Litigation risk or activity