Only one in three emails received is ‘essential’ for work

New research from email specialists Mimecast explores the average employee inbox

London, UK – Just one in three emails within business inboxes hold real, immediate value, according to research released today by Mimecast, the leading supplier of cloud-based email archiving, security and continuity for Microsoft Exchange and Office 365.  Only 25 percent of email is considered essential for work purposes with an additional 14 percent categorised as being of ‘critical importance’.

The research, Mimecast’s inaugural The Shape of Email report, polled IT departments on email practices and the contents of the average employee inbox in order to develop a picture of the current status and value of business email. The research explores the changing nature of the inbox, remote access to email and the use of social media, and will be updated regularly to follow the journey of those changes, including analysis of real corporate email traffic. By investigating the value of the emails received by business users, the report is able to track the ‘shape’ of the average organisation’s email and visually represent email usage.

Key findings: 

  •  The value of information found in an inbox varies considerably – Nearly two out of every three (61 percent) emails received are considered to be non-essential
    • On average, 11 percent of email is personal, non-work related. The remaining content is functional at best, with an estimated 7 percent of emails inside the average inbox considered to be spam or junk
    • On average, 63 percent of email comprises internal, employee-to-employee communication

  •  Quantity vs quality? – By looking at inbox content on a spectrum of value from junk to critically important information, the research assigned an average value to different types of inbox
    • Higher quality inboxes are notably smaller than those of lower quality – by an average of 10 percent (2.53 GB, compared to 2.81 GB, respectively).  They are also likely to contain a higher proportion of internal mail
    • The research finds that larger businesses with smaller inbox sizes are more likely to have higher levels of essential or critical emails 

  • Businesses slowly getting social – Organisations now commonly allow the use of social media in the workplace. LinkedIn is the most commonly used (in 55 percent of businesses), followed by Facebook (47 percent)
    • However, only one in three organisations believes that the use of social media in the workplace has genuinely decreased reliance on email, with the impact of social media on email usage limited by security concern
    • 59 percent of respondents believe that current levels of social media activity increase the risk of information leaks and 55 percent believe the risk of security breaches is also increased 

  • Security sensitivities – the changing nature of employee email usage has the potential to greatly impact the security of the information
    • IT departments are concerned about the security implications of mobile email and remote access to emails (39 percent and 41 percent respectively cite it as a concern)
    • However, organisations are still more concerned about email-based viruses (55 percent) and email security breaches in general (55 percent)

The Shape of Email is a starting point in helping us understand the quality of the information residing in the inboxes of organisations across the world,” commented Nathaniel Borenstein, Chief Scientist, Mimecast. “What is clear is that the average employee faces a significant challenge in simply processing the information that comes into their inbox and identifying which messages are genuinely business critical.”

 “We often end up working for email, rather than having email work for us,” Borenstein continued. “Email will remain a fundamental business tool for many years to come. It is the global standard; but not always the gold standard. It is therefore vital that email can continue to develop and adapt as technology and working practices change.

“By creating the Shape of Email Report, we hope to deepen our collective understanding of the current state of enterprise inboxes, which should help us understand where email is going. We’d love to hear from anyone else who may have insights.”

Click here for more information on The Shape of Email Report.


About the research

In April 2012, 500 interviews were conducted online with IT decision-makers (specifically about email hardware, software and services) across a range of company sizes and industry sectors and regions. 

The sample consisted of 200 US respondents, 200 from the UK and 100 from South Africa. The research was conducted by Loudhouse Research, an independent consultancy based in the UK. 

About Mimecast

Mimecast (www.mimecast.com) delivers cloud-based email management for Microsoft Exchange, including archiving, continuity and security. By unifying disparate and fragmented email environments into one holistic solution that is always available from the cloud, Mimecast minimizes risk and reduces cost and complexity, while providing total end-to-end control of email. Founded in the United Kingdom in 2003, Mimecast serves over 5,000 customers worldwide and has offices in Europe, North America, Africa and the Channel Islands.

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Media Contacts

Octopus Communications for Mimecast
Steve Spencer and Georgia Hart
T: 08435 700 655
E: mimecast@octopuscomms.net

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