A recent Forrester study of 140 companies found that more than 30% of organizations with more than 1,000 workers employ staff--not just software--to monitor outbound E-mail. Among larger enterprises, those with 20,000 or more employees, that figure jumped to more than 43%, suggesting greater awareness and sensitivity to the pitfalls of unrestricted communication.
Instant messaging is seeing increasing adoption in the workplace, but governing policies haven't caught up. While 31% of respondents say they use IM in the workplace, only 20% of companies have written policies governing IM use and content. And only 11% report having technical means in place to control IM usage.
Schnuck Markets has an E-mail policy, Johnson says, but not one for IM. Of the company's 16,000 employees, he estimates that 5% to 10% of the E-mail users also use IM. "We're going through a phase right now where we're trying to get everything documented, so I can see that [an IM policy] would be something we'd want," he says.
Among IM users, 58% employ the technology for personal business, while 94% use it for company business, the survey finds.
Another noteworthy finding is the extent of ignorance about regulatory requirements. Of the 42% of respondents who say they have jobs in regulated industries, 34% are unsure whether they adhere to applicable regulations governing the retention of E-mail. This underscores the need for user education.
There's also a need for education about E-mail's place in the legal environment. When Oracle CEO Larry Ellison E-mailed four colleagues on July 23, 2003, with his reaction to Siebel Systems Inc.'s layoffs--"The last best of breed company is in the process of dieing [sic]"--he probably wasn't thinking you or I might read it. Yet some of the juiciest details in the ongoing court battle over Oracle's bid to buy PeopleSoft Inc. came from E-mails.
One-fifth of AMA respondents say their companies' E-mail has been subpoenaed, and one-fifth aren't sure. Given E-mail's place as a channel for business dealings and personal thoughts, that number is likely only to rise.