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Survey Confirms: Your E-Mail Inbox Is Mostly Junk

What’s filling up your inbox? As you probably suspect, it’s mostly junk. Not necessarily junk mail -- just “non-essential” communication.

In survey results released today by Mimecast, only one in every three e-mail messages in your business inbox has any “real, immediate value.” If you’re like those surveyed, only a quarter of your inbox contains e-mail you consider “essential for work purposes,” and you consider another 14 percent of your inbox as being “of critical importance.”

Mimecast’s The Shape of E-mail report, the first the company has issued, asked IT departments about their e-mail practices and what’s in the inbox of an “average employee.”

According to the report, the study “attempts, for the first time, to describe the content of a typical corporate inbox in terms of its importance and relevance to the user, through the eyes of the professionals tasked with its management.”

Among the findings: 13 percent of a “typical” inbox is filled with personal (non-work-related) e-mail. Another 40 percent is either “functional” or of “low-level” importance. On average, 63 percent of your messages are coming from your co-workers; 7 percent is classified as “spam” or “junk.”

What Mimecast calls “high-quality inboxes” are typically smaller in size (by about 10 percent from “low-quality” inboxes), are found in large organizations (those with more than 500 employees), have a high percent of internal (employee-to-employee) e-mail, and are mostly likely in the IT/Telco market or are public sector employers.

The report drills down into the nature of e-mail. For example, two-thirds of messages contain more than just text. On average, one-quarter (27 percent) contain attachments, 14 percent have hyperlinks, and 22 percent embed either HTML or images.

Security is, as always, a concern: 41 percent of respondents worry about remote access; 39 percent are “concerned specifically with access to e-mail via a mobile device.”  The report identifies other security risks and, like those non-essential messages, time wasters: 73 percent of organizations allow social media use in the workplace (professional networking sites such as LinkedIn are allowed by 55 percent of organizations, social networking sites -- Facebook is the most popular -- by 47 percent). The problem: 59 percent say such social activity increases risks from information leaks, and 55 percent say it increases security risks.

The report also covers e-mail challenges by region, causes of e-mail downtime, and archive management practices. It’s available here; a short registration form must be completed for access.

The study is based on answers from 200 U.S. respondents, 200 respondents in the UK, and another 100 participants in South Africa. Mimecast is a cloud-based e-mail archiving, security, and continuity provider for Exchange and Office 365.

-- James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted on 06/06/2012 at 11:53 AM