The Time Degression caused by Internet Mail Overload yields a new concept of managing the information flood. It becomes more and more valuable to organize and target the content of emails. The new value leads to the topic of Information Management.
Information management is the handling of information acquired by one or many disparate sources in a way that optimizes access by all who have a share in that information or a right to that information.
The management of information (email in this case) has to optimize and delegate access in order to ensure the efficient business process. Data Warehousing as a part of Information Management is often misunderstood, hence implemented lacking the main ideas behind Information Management: -> To Optimize the Information Management Process.
Regarding the information flood caused by today’s email amounts there is a new need to quickly identify the focus of information in a bunch of emails. A quick overview to target the new information is highly recommended.
- What is the topic?
- What is the focus?
- Which email contains information that is needed right now, focused on content and topic?
Atomic information is correlated with topics, unfortunately uncorrelated when sent by email. The approach of standard Internet email is to attach a email to special topic using the subject and sometimes a thread identifier. The latter is often disregarded by many mail user agents (MUA), as it is not part of the standard (RFC 822). Subjects of Internet emails are mutable due to the ability to be edited in the evolution of a thread. The subject of an email is an inconsistent and therefore unreliable primary key for determining the correlation to a special topic.
Different topics may belong together, as well, and necessitate the need of intelligent organizing (and correlation) of topic information.
Managing too much information means to prioritize. The prioritization schedules descending urgencies to determine the next task. The idea of prioritized information is assumed to be a good approach to build a task list of items, focusing on the topics with the highest priorities.
The idea of prioritized task listing is a dynamic FIFO concept not 100 percent adoptable to email information management. Subjection of information, task and priority is difficult to assure. As a result of the information overload (and Time Degression) there is only a limited (and potential insufficient time) to discover a task. When there is only time to manage high priority information, while new (higher) prioritized information arrives, it may quickly happen that lower prioritized information remains (forgotten) on the queue. The latter leads to a stalled business process.
Information Costs are caused by wrong focus, correlation or prioritization of information – resulting in business claim and therefore are considered as costs (loss).
Missing highly relevant information leads to business claim and can cause high information costs. A missed deadline for example, a cause from wrong prioritization (task list issue) or simply by oversighting can lead to escalations, more work, even more email and therefore to high business costs.
Vice versa to missed information misplaced content can cause costs, as well. If unimportant information deviates important information, or if less important information takes the reader a high amount of time to focus the topics, the real intention may be lost. A good example is Spam Email. Assuming a user would read it all, he would have less time to read and manage the essential information. Spam, making 75 percent of the total email traffic in our days, therefore decreases the time to focus on real information by factor four. Assuming one hour to read, manage and answer email, 45 minutes would be wasted on Spam email (in worst case). This scenario is fortunately inapplicable, because this kind of email is quickly recognized by human beings (but not by computers).
Filtering email information is considered to be the first approach to filter out relevant information. Spam Filters for example prevent spam emails from polluting a mailbox. There is good spam filtering software available, being a great help – but not being 100 percent dependable. So human interaction is always required to ensure best results. The problem of filtering does not end up in filtering Spam email. A filter is considered as a view on a specific type of information (focus and correlation). Therefore it is not sufficient to eliminate Spam email and to leave the rest of information unorganized.