Is your e-mail system mature enough?

The advent of e-mail has been – allow me to understate – a major advance in business communication. It saves a tremendous amount of time, reduces costs, and accelerates work processes by enabling rapid exchange of information. As a result, decisions are often made with greater speed and effectiveness.
We can assume that only a tiny fraction of modern companies would be willing to forgo their e-mail systems. In fact, it would be safe to say that virtually all companies are pleased with the universal availability of electronic mail for the past 25 years or so.
When we look back on the early days of e-mail, we must feel fortunate that the technology has also continued to advance and mature. For example, it is impossible for me to recall my very first e-mail address from CompuServe – with its 25 random characters before the @ symbol – without coming down with a splitting headache.
In retrospect, the primitive early technology probably did little to genuinely improve productivity. Today the situation is much different. Integration of advanced social tools like instant messaging, presence awareness, and meeting rooms or (from an ECM perspective) integration of e-mail into an enterprise-wide information strategy makes Outlook or Notes a core application for many office workers.
Conversely, this means that expectations for things like availability have also risen drastically. If you have ever had the experience of involuntarily going without e-mail (or without any Internet connection whatsoever) for an entire workday, then you know exactly what I mean.
Incidentally, this can be a very instructive and – depending on your perspective – highly productive experience.
As an indication of how integral e-mail has become to our lives, consider the ubiquitous nature of mobile access and the ability to access e-mail from virtually any computer. What would your life be like without your Blackberry, iPhone, or other smartphone? More difficult for sure.
As expectations accelerate, you will be wise to ask yourself whether your e-mail system is evolving at the same pace and whether it is truly meeting the needs of your company. In a recent research paper titled “E-Mail Maturity Model: Optimizing the Investment”, analyst firm Gartner Inc. introduces a maturity model for assessing e-mail infrastructures and for planning future investments (see figure). I wholeheartedly recommend the entire report “E-Mail Maturity Model: Optimizing the Investment”. It may be downloaded here. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have!

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Written by Andreas Mai in: Compliance,e-mail management,english | Tags: ,

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