In eighty percent of all litigation, email messages are part of an electronic discovery request. This is due to the fact that email content shows the flow of thoughts (and often documents) in an organization. Organizations that do not prepare for a potential e-discovery request, do so at their potential peril.
Email archiving is a fact of life for most public and private companies in this day and age. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or how many employees you have—if you aren’t archiving, you run the risk of facing legal sanctions or huge e-discovery costs if you’re ever involved in litigation within the U.S. federal court system. And if you’re in a highly regulated industry, like financial services, you must follow extremely stringent requirements and the penalties for noncompliance are even greater.
Why Archive Email?
In most jurisdictions, organizations in heavily regulated industries, such as financial services, healthcare and government, must comply with stringent electronic content retention regulations. Consequently, they are faced with significant financial and legal risks of noncompliance. These risks may include the imposition of significant monetary fines – and, in certain cases, even imprisonment.
The fact that many small- to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) do not have a suitable archiving solution in place results in increased legal and regulatory risk, and it increases the overall cost of storage management.
Email and other electronic content stores contain a growing proportion of business records that must be preserved for long periods of time. Further, this content is frequently requested during discovery proceedings because of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) and state versions of the FRCP. As a result, it is critical that all relevant electronic content be made available for e-discovery purposes.
Contrary to what such decision-makers may think, no organization operating in the United States, regardless of size or industry, is immune from the obligation to retain electronic content in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). The FRCP are a body of rules and procedures that govern civil lawsuits in United States district courts. The FRCP create obligations on the part of all organizations to locate, preserve, and produce, in a timely manner, electronic information relevant to the subject matter of a lawsuit.
There are a large and growing number of regulatory obligations to preserve email. Some of the higher profile requirements are:
A company does not have to have billions of documents to experience significant email storage growth. The dual drivers of cheaper disk storage and the increased size of email messages, thanks to attachments such as images and videos, is fueling the electronic content storage explosion. Messaging storage is growing at roughly 30% annually, which means that a terabyte of storage today will swell to nearly 2.5 terabytes in just three years. Further, a recent Osterman Report survey found that four of the top five problems in managing email systems are related to storage.
An appropriately designed archiving capability allows IT staff to put users in charge of recovering their own missing or deleted content, freeing IT from the burden of doing this for them. This can result in significant cost savings as well as recovery of IT time that otherwise would be spent on this important, but unproductive, task.
As employees rely on email, collaboration tools and other content repositories as the primary tools they use to do work, it is important for companies to be able to extract business intelligence from the content that employees generate. Some archiving systems enable customers to quickly locate emails and extract information, such as the identity of users’ email correspondents or reports they generated. This could be useful, for example, when a new employee is required to trace back correspondence and other content between his or her predecessor and a customer. There are also sophisticated tools that can perform automated, large-scale retrieval and rigorous in-depth analysis of archived content, adding to the value of what archiving can offer a company.