by Paul Watson, Chief Commercial Officer, Star

The evolution of business email

Aug 25, 2010
IT LeadershipIT StrategyMobile Apps

The current economic climate has forced many budgets to be squeezed even tighter, while forcing companies to change the way they do business.

For companies seeking to communicate effectively with staff and customers, IT remains an essential part of the business. At its heart, email provides the lifeblood for an organisation’s workers to communicate internally and externally but has become so complex and expensive to manage, and offers a company no differentiation, that many are now turning their back on doing this themselves.

Changing role of the CIO

Five years ago, CIOs’ main concerns in terms of email, was to deliver their business’ email to the server where users could pick it up on their desktops. Today, users are spoilt for choice with a wide variety of devices, and expect to read their email anytime, anywhere, on any device. These expectations greatly enhance the complexity for the CIO, who now has to deliver email not only to traditional desktops and laptops, but also to Smartphones, iPhones, BlackBerrys and iPads.

With message volumes continuing to rise (June 2008 saw 210 billion emails per day) and file attachments steadily increasing in mass, correctly sizing and scaling an in-house email system is a critical requirement for every business. Businesses just need email to work and to know that their data is safe, that they are compliant and can find what they need when they need it. Concerning themselves with implementing back-up procedures, disaster recovery systems and business continuity is distracting resources away from the important activities that will differentiate the business in the market place and achieve success.


With this in mind, many organisations are re-examining the way they access their business email. We have found that a typical British medium sized organisation or department, with 250 email seats and an additional 50 Blackberry users could potentially save £9,495.19 per annum by switching to a managed service provider. This figure takes into consideration the elimination of associated on-premise costs such as software licenses, which can easily be in excess of £20,000 for an organisation of that size.

By using a managed services provider and switching to a utility model, CIOs should expect continuous support and the assurance that their data is hosted securely in a datacentre and backed-up continually.

Wide variety of communication channels

While UK businesses are using email to communicate with staff and customers, they are also looking for new ways to improve collaboration in real-time. Instant Messaging with “Presence” information, for example, will show colleagues who is available at any one time, and in this way accelerates the flow of information and support, as well as aiding the decision-making process. On top of that, other technologies such as IP telephony and video conferencing have the ability to transform business communications. What’s different now is the way these services can be delivered, so that any small and medium sized UK business can access this technology. Video conferencing is no longer the preserve of the enterprise.

The future

The evolution of email has not only seen the proliferation of devices and an increase in overall complexity, but is forcing CIOs to fundamentally address the way that email is managed.Workers are able to receive their email anywhere, anytime, and on any device, and the lines between private social networking tools and business use is becoming increasingly blurred. I believe by switching to a managed service provider, rather than continually investing in managing hardware and software in-house, the CIO is preparing the business for the future, and is making a conscious decision to focus on differentiating the business through the effective application and use of technology.

Read the experiences of a Star customer, Keepmoat CIO Andrew Newton

Response Summary

What is the future of email?

CIO Debate part 8: Email faces a business revolution from usage of social media

CIO Debate part 7: Re-examining the role of email in business

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