EAM focused on the wrong elements?

  • 13-Jun-2008

This week I was speaking on the topic of EAM (E-Mail Archiving and Management) at the big SIFMA (Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association) event in New York. As always it was as much a learning experience for me as for those who attended my sessions. It turned out that EAM in this sector is viewed somewhat differently than I had thought. In the Securities and Financial Markets world EAM is of interest and use for two primary reasons:

  • First and foremost, simple archiving to meet regulatory needs, in the USA particularly SEC 17a3 and 17a4
  • Secondly, for monitoring e-mail exchanges between brokers and other staff to detect and block potential wrongdoing

All the other elements of EAM -- in particular Policy Management -- were of peripheral interest. This left me with much to ponder. So too did the discussions around monitoring, for though it remains a very important service among this crowd, those I spoke to were universally unimpressed with the current monitoring offerings on the market. Some deigning them to be next to useless.

Similarly, in this sector search tools as we know then are held in very low regard, with the concepts of keywords and ranking considered of little value. What these buyers want is what they already use with their structured data: trend and activity analysis.

To put this another way, search is fine if you know what you are looking for, and that thing is an item or event in the past. It is of no use at all in predicting current/future trends or potential abnormal activities. And in an industry that is fixated on latency issues -- and defines message delivery of more than half a second as unacceptably slow -- you can see their point. But it's surely not just the cutting edge world of Wall Street finance that has this need. Surely as we move toward Social Software and ever more ubiquitous real-time collaboration, the need for real or near real-time analytics will become increasingly important for all kinds of organizations.

So at present, the best means of compliance is to filter out junk and to securely archive and index legacy mail -- and to keep policy management to a minimum. I think it's true that search is something you do in retrospect and has limited value in a dynamic business environment. Alas the tools to monitor and deliver real-time analytics against not just mail, but all forms of unstructured content, are today non-existent. EAM monitoring tools are very limited in their ability to catch wrongdoing in real time. It's not that the technology doesn't exist -- to some degree it does -- but more that the EAM market itself is not there yet. It remains fixated on rather dated, records management approaches to EAM, rather than focusing on the ability to derive ever richer analytical data from both the live and the archived mail environments.