Spam — the productivity waster

Spam is the unsolicited receipt of an e-mail message.

As individuals, we may gripe about spam. For some, spam is a huge potential time-waster. But have you stopped to consider the cost to your enterprise?

We’ve seen clients wasting tens of thousands of dollars of valuable business time dealing with spam. What’s the impact on your company?

The amount of spam is increasing dramatically. Our firm gets four times the spam now than we did a year ago. I receive more than 500 spam messages a day. A typical user at our clients’ firms is sent more than 40, each and every day. The time spent reviewing bogus and undesired e-mail messages will never be retrieved. And who wants to look at the awful pictures that are often sent?

Multiply all of the time that one person throws away by the number of people in your firm, by all the work days, by your cost of personnel, and it is enough to give your CFO a heart attack.

We can’t live without e-mail and the enormous functionality it has given us to communicate. But we have to make it usable.

There are solutions. We’ve implemented them, and the result is that less than 2 percent of the spam that is sent to me gets to my in-box. This I can live with.

Here’s what you need to do.

* At the e-mail server level (your outermost point to the Internet), before any mail goes into any mailboxes, you must have automatic rejection of e-mail coming from known spammers. This list must be frequently updated. You must keep the spam out of your network or it clogs your network. When done properly, this will reject more than 50 percent of the spam that tries to get to you.

* A second-level spam control product will further filter the e-mail. This spam control looks at content. Both at an administrative level and at a user level, rules and controls can be set which dictate what can and can’t get through to your mailboxes. These rules allow you to set thresholds above which mail gets thrown into a special spam folder or rejected. Most people want, at least at the beginning, to review the mail that gets “caught” so see if the controls are too tight or if any desirable mail got caught, and make adjustments accordingly. When used effectively, this will stop 95 percent or more of the spam.

* The third level of spam control is at the user e-mail software package level. In the package that you use to retrieve and view your e-mail, you can have filters. The most recent versions of Eudora and Outlook have built-in, automatic spam/junk filters. You can also create your own.

Spam is here to stay, regardless of what the state or federal government does with regulation. Spammers keep coming up with new ways to pollute your e-mail and cost you your most precious asset: time. Don’t let them.

The specific solutions vary depending on each user’s products and network in use. Involve a qualified technology partner to review your situation and implement solutions so that you can lessen your frustrations and increase your profitability.

Randy Wear([email protected]) is president of Decision Systems Plus Inc., a member of the Technology Assurance Group (TAG). It provides voice, data and convergence solutions that are based on integrated, open systems that work with a variety of organizational and technology environments and structures. Reach him at (847) 699-9960.