Recent Meta Group research indicates that a majority of organisations would like to reduce their dependence on e-mail as a document format supporting mission-critical processes.
Although 84 percent said they currently use e-mail as a document format following process completion, only 42 percent indicated they intend to continue to do so in the next 12 months. Additionally, this research revealed that e-mail is and will continue to be a critical channel for routing documents throughout mission-critical business processes.
This reinforces previous Meta Group research findings that indicated a majority of knowledge workers preferred e-mail as their primary communication and collaboration channel (e.g., conversations, alerts, notifications). This preference for e-mail as a collaboration and transport mechanism instead of a document format is driven by the inadequacy of e-mail as a format to satisfy growing record management and compliance requirements, such as security, privacy, and record fidelity and retention.
Through 2005, we expect companies to also re-examine their use of e-mail as an externally facing content format, such as in delivery of customer account communications (e.g., statements, transaction summaries), in favor of more controllable document formats (e.g., secure documents). However, the use of e-mail as a format in internal processes might be too well instantiated in corporate cultures for total replacement by other formats. Therefore, organisations will still be required to integrate e-mail systems into enterprise content management systems.
Bottom line: Record management, archival, and regulatory compliance requirements will force companies to address the inadequacies of e-mail as a document format and integrate e-mail systems with formal content and record management systems, throughout content life cycles, by 2006.