Companies have become so reliant on e-mail that 85% of firms admit that e-mail downtime would severely affect their business, according to research from analyst firm Quocirca.
As a result, companies expect a high level of support from their IT departments, and 70% of organisations said they would expect IT to respond to e-mail outage within 10 minutes.
"The majority of respondents see e-mail as an integral part of key business processes such as sales and customer service. A rock-solid infrastructure is the key to a successful business continuity strategy and this must extend to mobile and home-workers," said Clive Longbottom, service director, business process facilitation, at Quocirca.
The survey also found that 50% of the businesses surveyed believed they would not be able to maintain e-mail service levels if they migrated from one e-mail system to another, and that this was one of the main barriers to migration.
"The importance of maintaining service levels is confirmed by the reluctance of organisations to accept any interruption in service during the upgrade process itself," said Longbottom.
Greater use of laptops and PDAs has made e-mail business-critical, making respondents more aware of e-mail downtime.