With email now being a critical part of business operations and records for companies of all sizes, mail management company KVS is broadening its marketing attack by opening a second channel through the Computerland chain.
“Until now we’ve been working through Gen-i — or Telecom, as I suppose we’ll have to call it now,” says Asia-Pacific sales director Bjorn Engelhardt. “Our partnership agreement with Computerland gives us broader coverage.”
Even a 1000-user organisation could have accumulated terabytes of unstructured information in a time period short enough for the oldest of it still to matter, says Engelhardt. Too often there is little in the way of a central repository for historical emails, much less an organised searchable repository. Many businesses leave management of past messages in the hands of the individual who retrieved or sent them.
“If you ask that person for a copy of an email he sent or received eight months ago, some will be able to supply it quickly, but many will not.”
Email management should not be left in the hands of the individual user; it should be escalated to a higher level of IT management or line management.
Loss of information contained in emails may make all the difference to the proven legitimacy of a claim for a tax deduction, or at the serious end of the scale could imperil the terms of contracts.
A lot of pre-negotiation goes on in email (and lawyer Michael Wigley has alerted New Zealanders to the dangers of inadvertently creating binding “process contracts” through such negotiation). If the other party has a record of a claimed email exchange and you do not, or if it has gone missing entirely, you may face a “legal lottery” when it comes to defending your rights, Engelhardt says.
“This is not about [creating] fear,” he adds. “It’s about knowing your business.”
Policy comes first, before the selection of any product, he says; a business should know what emails are important to them, how long they should be kept, what elements of the mail (author, subject, date etc) are important as keys for retrieval. A proper analysis should be conducted of the risk of misplacing important communications.
KVS was founded by a team from Compaq in the US in 1999, but its roots and those of its primary product, Enterprise Vault, go back into the history of Digital Equipment. Largely for this reason it uses Digital-developed search technology from AltaVista.
Other aspects to the competent management of email are longevity — ensuring that the format and medium in which a document is stored will still be readable in a decade’s time — and storage management. KVS currently favours HTML and XML as non-proprietary standards with a clear road ahead of them and multivendor/user international commitment, but if concern at the pace of industry change is high enough, and information is not lost by reformatting, some businesses may opt for simple ASCII text.
A hierarchical storage management system is significant for efficiency, ensuring that the most likely documents to be needed quickly are kept on fast media and having a defined policy and procedures for backing up older or less-critical data to slower media. This avoids scarce storage resources being too hard-pressed.