Remember when a new email in your inbox was as exciting as the postman dropping off a card from grandma with a $5 bill in it? Those days are over. Now email is a crushing tsunami. The average corporate email account receives 18 MB of mail and attachments each business day, according to the analyst firm Radicati Group; the figure is projected to grow to 28 MB a day by 2011. No wonder there's a fledgling movement afoot to periodically declare "email bankruptcy"—delete all your saved emails and start over. Never fear; less extreme solutions are being implemented by corporations fed up with wasted resources. The results are surprisingly good. Our guide to three models:
Capital One's Email Class
"People thought email was something you couldn't control," says Matt Koch, human resources director at
Union Bank's RSS Solution
Not all of Union Bank of California's more than 10,000 employees need to see the information that goes out in countless email broadcasts every day. "They are crucial for some people but irrelevant to the majority," says James Penn, the bank's VP of marketing. So Union Bank is replacing broadcast emails with targeted RSS Web feeds. If power goes out at the Fresno branch, for instance, only those staffers in nearby branches—and specific managers—will get the memo. The new system (from a company called KnowNow) will send RSS feeds based on job description and location. Employees can also unsubscribe from lists. Penn estimates that they will get back 30 minutes a week in the first year, which the company conservatively figures will save in excess of $750,000.
Reuters's IM Conversion
The simple act of reserving a conference room shouldn't require a string of seven or eight emails over several hours. "If you use email to conduct business transactions in a conversational way, you'll end up with a full inbox," says Reuters executive VP David Gurle. That's why
Correction: Akonix is a security and compliance solution that Reuters recommends to its customers; it is not built into Reuters messaging.
A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2007 issue of Fast Company magazine.