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Necessity Is The Mother

If you've spent any length of time supporting users, you know that there is no end to the imaginative workarounds they can come up with when a system goes down and they have work that still needs to happen. Yes, necessity is the mother of invention, or some other kind of mother, but when it comes to e-mail workarounds, the inventiveness of users can cause problems.

And it's hard to quibble with their intent. Businesses can no longer build slack into their schedules as a just-in-case measure when making deals. Communications technology has made immediacy the norm, so when a critical conduit is temporarily unavailable, the show still must go on, no excuses.

In our most recent poll we asked you what your users resort to when their corporate e-mail is down. As we anticipated, a majority (51 percent) of you said they just go out on the Web and use their personal e-mail accounts. Not a pretty picture if you're monitoring e-mail for compliance and security purposes.Another 11 percent of you said they resort to the enterprise instant messaging system, a more manageable choice and its good to know that you're managing IM. But eight percent of you said that your users go out on commercial IM networks in a pinch, and that's not a good place for sensitive corporate information to go.

I guess old reliable, the fax machine, is just that, old. Only five percent of you said your users turn the fax when the e-mail network is down.

And that leaves 24 percent of you that chose our catchall, other choice, which we called Smoke Signals. That could include a number for options, including just picking up the phone and talking to someone. But if documents need to be exchanged for review, that rules out a voice call.

What's become clear is that many of you don't have policies for how the work goes on when the e-mail is down. And in the this age of compliance, legal discovery and corporate governance, it's time to institute those policies and perhaps make a strong case for enterprise IM.