It never ceases to amaze me that some organizations still lack a managed solution to archive employee emails, let alone policies and procedures to enforce any email archiving principles. Email is the most litigation-risky archive, the number one place for law enforcement agencies and regulators to look for smoking guns, and the biggest money pit during eDiscovery (closely followed by unstructured data from file shares and data from SharePoint). As warned by IDC in July 2005, for some organizations, email is the “Elephant in the Corner” (See: Worldwide Content Management Software Forecast 2005–2009: Thar She Grows! IDC #33683 by Joshua Duhl and Susan Feldman).
Being unprepared for litigation is one of the largest business risks and can seriously threaten the continuity of an organization. Remember UBS and how their lack of readiness and their over-archiving forced them into a very unfavorable settlement in the Zubulake vs UBS-Warburg case? Only time will tell whether BP is prepared for the large array of lawsuits that they will be confronted with in the upcoming years.
Archiving, managing and enforcing email can be a complex task. From a technical or disk-space-saving point of view, it is not difficult to archive emails, but when e-discovery and early case assessment become a reality and deadlines are imposed on your organization, even products from recognized email-archiving leaders can come with serious problems. For example, exploratory search for early case assessment and processing large collections of email in a defensible and auditable way can be a significant challenge. Only with the right technology and by creating a daily operating procedure can this be done in a scalable, reliable and cost-effective manner.
While some organizations have proactively implemented the right email archiving solutions, even they should not become idle.Archiving and managing your email in an eDiscovery is just the beginning. The continuously growing volume and complexity of information, the world-wide distribution of information (due to subsidiaries, outsourcing partners, personal computer and communication equipment and the cloud), increased complexity, and contradicting regulations all contribute to increasing litigation risks and corresponding legal cost.
The only real method to become litigation ready is to have an Enterprise Information Archiving (EIA) strategy in place for all your information: including email, file shares, SharePoint, business repositories, paper, but also the new elephants in the corner: multimedia information and information the cloud. Such a strategy should include policy and retention management, content analytics for automatic information archiving, classification and valuation, exploratory search, eDiscovery (EDRM process) support, defensible and enforced quality control, methodologies and audits, but also meta-data, security and storage management.
This also explains the increasing interest in and reports on Enterprise Information Archiving, information valuation, and information governance, in general, by organizations such as Gartner (see Enterprise Information Archiving Transforms the Strategy and Approach for Archiving by Kenneth Chin and Sheila Childs, G00201236) and various other analysts.
Just as the Sarbanes-Oxley act turbo-charged the enterprise content management industry in 2002, e-discovery and additional oversight and regulations will turbo-charge the search, content analytics and archiving industry. Ensure that you work with vendors that understand these dynamics and can help you to implement a proper strategy… one that may begin with one more e-discoveries but that can scale to resolve your comprehensive information management and archiving needs as well!
And if you and your organization have not start managing your email, you need to start today as part of an overall Enterprise Information Archiving Strategy if you want to stay in business tomorrow!
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