The retention and management of data has become one of the most important issues facing organisations today. With some 100+ laws on data retention and compliance in the UK alone covering everything from email to accountancy transactions there is little wonder that many people are confused and concerned. The storage, management, archiving and retrieval of data has moved from being an obscure IT issue to a legitimate boardroom concern.
Moreover, it’s worth noting that the debate on the specific industry compliance requirements can be seen as a distraction from the essential common law obligation to preserve all documents that could be required in a court of law. Senior managers could be held personally liable for their organisation's inability to produce relevant information, whether it was deleted, inadequately stored, or stolen.
However, while compliance and common law duty are significant, organisations need to look beyond this as there are substantial benefits to be gained from better access to, and control over, data resources. This is particularly true of email which is increasingly becoming the main means of communication with clients, suppliers and other parties. Email can often be the prime source of vital information related to contract negotiations or agreements with clients or suppliers.
Therefore, an ability to access information stored within emails can not only satisfy the legal and compliance issues mentioned earlier, but it can also provide huge commercial benefits. The information stored within email conversations may well refer to many aspects affecting the future of the organisation. Examples might be changes in customer service agreements, or conversations pertinent to an employee grievance or disciplinary.
These conversations may well have been conducted many months, or even years, ago. As a consequence they can be long since forgotten or might have been conducted by an employee that has subsequently left the organisation. An ability to easily access, search and retrieve information held within emails can therefore be of significant commercial value.
The email archiving challenge
In most organisations using systems such as Microsoft exchange, emails are distributed to users from a central server. Once there, the management of the data and ultimately the whole performance of the email system is often determined by the user. A decision to save an email, whether archived on the local machine or on a network drive, is largely made at the discretion of the recipient. Unless a copy is continually taken centrally of all emails entering the organisation, prior to distribution, an email will be lost once a user makes a decision to delete it.
From a performance point of view, if a user doesn’t archive or delete emails then their mailbox will become too large and cause a significant reduction in the whole organisation’s emailing effectiveness; potentially corrupting files and degrading throughput and email volume.
An effective archiving and retrieval process requires two elements; a planned policy for managing the data, and the technology to enable it to happen. The data management policy should cover areas such as data back up and security, access rights, user policies and behaviour.
When it comes to email archiving technology there are now a whole raft of solutions that enable an organisation to both archive their emails centrally and be able to easily access them in real time. The adoption of this archiving technology eliminates an organisation’s reliance on employees to manually archive their data as well as maintaining email performance. Behind the scenes the email system is archiving, however, as far as the employees are concerned nothing has changed. The look and feel for employees remains the same; they can still access and create folders as they would normally do.
In addition, the access to old email data is significantly enhanced through an ability to conduct word searches across an entire email archive to retrieve specific information, such as relating to a contract, client, product or geography etc. This means that vital background clarity and substantiation can be retrieved within minutes.
James Stratton, Managing Director of Connexion, commented “with the volume of email data set to continue growing at an alarming rate, there is a clear need for organisations to meet current and future compliance requirements. However, clients are also now reaping the rewards of having easy access to email information, as a consequence of a robust data strategy, together with intelligent retrieval technology.”
Friday 30 November 2012 10:06:38 by
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