Osterman Research has found that roughly one-third of the typical information worker’s day is spent working on a mobile device, and an even greater proportion of work-related content is accessed using mobile devices. The impetus for the growing use of mobile devices is driven by a number of factors, although the use of personally owned devices is a key factor in their adoption in the workplace. As shown in the following figure, the use of company-owned and personally-owned smartphones is on the increase.
The use of messaging applications on mobile devices, such as email and SMS/text messaging, are among the most common applications of mobile devices in the workplace. The vast majority of users who employ a smartphone for work-related uses employ some type of messaging-related application on a regular basis.
There are a number of difficulties associated with the archival of text messaging content. For example:
Text messages sent using telecom carriers are often retained only for brief periods, and so these providers cannot be relied upon a source of archived text messages for long periods.
Since some companies operate in multiple countries using carriers that often do not provide any sort of text messaging archival service, enterprises often employ different methods to archive text messages, such as doing a physical backup of a device.
Further complicating the archival of text messages is the lack of commonality for archiving content depending on the device in use. Some solutions pull content directly from the server (e.g., with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server), while others install an app on the mobile device that transmits text messages to the archive. Other tools, such as SMS Backup+ for Android devices, will move text messages into a user’s Gmail account where they can be backed up or archived indirectly.
The bottom line is that organizations using various and inconsistent methods for archival of text messages makes the process inefficient, expensive and prone to error. The result can be incomplete archives of text messages and the consequences that go along with this level of inconsistency. Therefore, it’s essential to choose the right vendor that can provide a consistent and unified method for text message archival.
We have recently published a white paper on text messaging archiving that you can download here.
Think about the process of sending a single email to one individual:
You create and send an email and a copy of that email is placed into your Sent Items folder (copy 1).
The recipient receives your email (copy 2).
Your email admin makes a nightly backup of your email inbox (copy 3).
The recipient’s admin does likewise (copy 4).
Your company’s archiving system places a copy of your email into archival storage (copy 5).
Ditto for the recipient’s company’s email archiving system (copy 6).
The email you sent to recipient A gets forwarded to someone else (copy 7).
That copy gets placed into a backup and archive (copies 8 and 9).
You, your original recipient and the recipient of the forwarded copy access corporate email on a smartphone and a tablet (copies 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15).
Now, let’s say you decide that you want to delete all of your old email because you’re afraid of incriminating evidence that might turn up in a lawsuit, a regulatory audit, or because you’re running for political office (ahem). Good luck with that. At best, you might be able to delete copy 1 and, if the recipient is nice, copy 2. Copies 3, 4 and 8 might disappear as admins reuse backup tapes over time or as the various mobile devices on which your email is stored deletes older content. But that means that of the 15 or so copies of your email that exist, only about one-third to one-half will ever really disappear.
What should you do? First of all, disabuse yourself of the notion that you can ever completely delete your email. You can’t – it exists and may exist forever in some cases. Second, realize that email will stick around despite your best efforts to purge it, and so plan on it reappearing at some point. That means that if you have incriminating emails floating around your company, it’s best to archive them reliably and prevent their alteration so that at least you have the same evidence that the other side will almost certainly have in a lawsuit or a regulatory audit. While the ideal state is never to have incriminating emails, if you have more than zero employees in your company that’s unlikely to happen.
All of this sounds quite basic, but our work has demonstrated that some are still under the false impression that the process of deleting email actually deletes email. In reality, it does delete email, but only your copies of them – most are still out there somewhere out of your control. The best you can do is ensure that you have copies of your email that you can reliably assume others will also have.