Email strategies for SMBs

Email management can be a difficult task for small and medium-sized businesses. Learn more about upgrades, spam, email security and more in this IT Management Guide.

Email is a crucial component of everyday business for workers at companies of all sizes. As a result, IT professionals at small and medium-sized businesses must deal with a number of tasks, including archiving email to meet compliance and regulation needs, fighting spam and blocking malicious content. Check out the latest news, tips and other email resources -- specifically geared toward small and medium-sized businesses -- to help you make informed decisions.

For free advice and resources on more IT and business topics, visit our list of SMB IT Management Guides.

Table of contents

   Email security buying decisions
   Despite filters, spam continues to wage war on businesses
   RSS eases email burden
   Email upgrades are more than messaging
   Email etiquette policies: Big savings and productivity
   More resources

  Email security buying decisions  Table of Contents

[Joel Dubin, CISSP, Contributor]

There are many ways to protect email, and to send and receive it securely. But for a cash-strapped SMB with little or no dedicated information security staff, there are three approaches:

  • Software.
  • Hardware or appliance.
  • Outsourcing to a managed security service provider (MSSP).

    These approaches can be handled with your existing staff, require no new specialized skills or training and are easy to implement. They also don't require someone on staff 24/7, usually a luxury for thin IT departments at SMBs; they can be set up to page someone on call instead of a night crew.

       Learn more in "Email security buying decisions." Also:

      • Email encryption: Five steps to success (
        Email encryption is no longer the complex mystery it once was for SMBs. To demystify it, follow these five simple steps.

      • The role of firewalls and VPNs in email security (
        A guide to understanding how VPNs and firewalls combine to increase email security, tailored to issues facing consultants and systems integrators working to secure their customers' email systems.

      Spam continues to wage war on businesses  Table of Contents

    [Shamus McGillicuddy, News Writer]

    Email inboxes full of spam are costing companies money and driving employees crazy.

    Nucleus Research Inc., a Wellesley, Mass.-based firm, found that U.S. companies are losing $71 billion annually to lost productivity caused by spam.

    The findings were based on a Nucleus Research survey of 849 business users of email. Users reported that they spend 1.2% of their time dealing with spam in their inboxes.

       Find out more in "Despite filters, spam continues to wage war on businesses." Also:

      • Combating image-based spam (
        Spammers are a sneaky lot, and their latest innovation, image-based spam, presents yet another security and management concern for SMBs. This tip explains the dangers of image-based spam and what you can do to combat it.

      • Firm thwarts spam with multilayered shield (
        A medium-sized law firm blends internal and hosted technology to choke the flow of spam and emailed viruses.

      RSS eases email burden  Table of Contents

    [Paul Gillin, Contributor]

    If you're an IT professional, chances are good that email is a big part of your everyday routine. Whether it's email administration, daily communication or project management, email is a technology you can't live without.

    But email is terrible for project management. If you've ever used it on a project with more than a few participants, you know what I mean. Have you ever been caught in one of those volleys in which two people have a conversation while 10 others are copied on every exchange, just because they happen to be on a mailing list?

    Email is a great way for two or three people to get something done, but it's a lousy way for five people or more to collaborate. Unfortunately, people tend to use the tools they've got. They force email to work in collaborative applications, even though it was never intended for that.

       Learn more in "RSS eases email burden." Also:

      • Sold on Web 2.0 (CIO Decisions)
        Midmarket CIOs are finding that Web 2.0 offers a host of e-commerce tools to engage customers, improve product lines and bring greater alignment between IT and the business. Four CIOs tell us how.

    • How can attackers exploit RSS software flaws? (
      RSS syndication feeds are a convenient way to get your news, blogs or other favorite content, but these popular tools are often left exposed. In this Q&A, Ed Skoudis explains how malicious hackers can attack RSS software and distribute malicious code.

      Email upgrades are more than messaging  Table of Contents

    [Carol Hildebrand, Contributor]

    Email is unquestionably a critical communications tool for the vast majority of SMBs. The total market of SMB users was 243 million individuals in 2006 and is projected to reach 278 million seats in 2009, according to Osterman Research Inc. in Black Diamond, Wash. Upgrading your existing email suite, then, should be a top priority. And when the time comes, there are a number of evaluation criteria to consider.

    First, SMB CIOs need to consider more than just the messaging medium when weighing upgrade options, said Erica Driver, principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Boston. "The discussion is no longer about just email; it's an entire collaboration platform," she said.

    Vendors such as Microsoft and IBM have put together communication suites that include not just email, but instant messaging, social networking and collaboration tools as well. "Email is the commodity product of the suite, but the CIO needs to look at the application strategy of the entire suite," Drive said.

       Find out more in "Email upgrades are more than messaging." Also:

      • Email archiving tool purchase considerations (
        This chapter of the Tiered Storage Buying Guide focuses on the purchase considerations for email archiving tools.

      Email etiquette: Big savings and productivity  Table of Contents

    [Tom Pisello, Contributor]

    Email has become one of the most important communication and collaboration tools for businesses. Email volume has doubled during the past five years to more than 40 billion person-to-person emails daily, according to Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC. Moreover, the volume is expected to continue to at least 18% every year for the next five years.

    For the average email user, more than 30% of a given day is spent creating, organizing, reading and responding to email. This contributes to information overload, which hinders corporate productivity and competitive advantage. Thus, users are becoming more dissatisfied with mail as a productivity tool.

    Spam is another issue. It comprises 20% of total email volume in organizations without proper protection in place. Although spam does not take long to process, typical users waste about 10 minutes reading and/or deleting these emails each day, costing organizations approximately $1,250 per user in lost productivity each year.

       Learn more in "Email etiquette policies: Big savings and productivity." Also:

      • Managing mobile computing policies (
        Many organizations rely heavily on mobile workers, such as sales and technical support staff members who bring in revenue and keep customers satisfied. According to industry experts, the first step in mobile computing success is to create and maintain formal mobile policies and support.

      • Messaging techniques spawn new security policies (
        Gartner IT Security Summit: As people use a growing variety of messaging programs in the workplace, companies are being forced to create new policies to minimize crossover threats.

      More resources  Table of Contents

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