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Friday, August 17, 2007

Email statistics

Chances are that you have some decidedly unexpected behaviors happening on your email network. You probably expect that there are jokes and video files being emailed around. But did you know about that user on you network that only forwards mail?

That's right. In an enterprise of any substantial size (over 500 users), there is virtually a 100% chance that there is at least one user that for every 10 mails sent, 9 are forwards (and it isn't uncommon to see 100%). No, I don't know what they do all day.

Have you ever measured which account sends the most emails in a given unit time? I'll take odds on it being a printer (or copier, or database, or application). This certainly points to enterprises using email as a generic messaging platform, and that enterprises consider it acceptable to use email as a method for applications and devices communicating their state.

Of course, the law of unintended consequences rears its ugly head when you realize that the printer sent 65,000 emails last month lamenting the loss of toner. To a distribution group. With dozens of users. And all of it gets archived.

Of course there's the 25-40% of your email (by volume) that is entirely Office documents, and the 20-40% that is non-business email (non-business images, video files, jokes, chain letters).

Here's an idea for blocking chain letters: just block any email with more than one exclamation point in the subject line. While this is meant to be tongue in cheek, it is pretty accurate.

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