When e-mail first
appeared on the scene, the financial services sector was more cautious about
adopting it than most industries. Security was a particular fear. But the
deployment of e-mail was irresistible, and now banks use e-mail, and instant
messaging, as freely as any other industry.

Along with the
obvious benefits of e-mail, there are also the costs—particularly those associated
with the risks to which e-mail exposes the organization: liability due to
identity theft or information leaks, hacking, viruses, employee misuse, system
failures, etc. But mostly, the costs are accepted as inevitable, and are often
overlooked; e-mail has so transformed the convenience, reach, and flexibility
of business communications that its implementation is regarded as a no-brainer,
and all money that is spent on its maintenance is necessary.

However, a new survey suggests that
banks should take a more critical and analytical look at their e-mail infrastructure
costs. Over three quarters of IT directors in financial services firms in the United
States and Europe do not know, or cannot calculate, the total cost of ownership
(TCO) of their current message management infrastructure. The survey, conducted
by Market and Opinion Research International (MORI)
on behalf of BT, says that this is despite
the growing reliance on electronic communication channels.

messaging channels are now considered viable media for taking orders, sending
approvals and contracts, and discussing sensitive financial issues,” says
Chris Hughes, marketing director, financial services, BT Consulting &
Systems Integration. But with all the money that is being spent on messaging
systems, is anyone really looking at whether it’s being spent wisely?

Discovering e-mail TCO is the first step to reducing costs

Financial services
organizations are taking the threat of spam, virus, and denial of service
attacks seriously to avoid any disruption to their business; they are also keen
to ensure compliance with corporate governance regulations. The survey points
out that while these threats need to be dealt with, enterprises should manage these
challenges based on a clear understanding of the cost of their current

The issue is well
illustrated bywork BT did with Raymond
James Financial
, one of the largest financial services firms in the United
States: “We are absolutely inundated with e-mail,” said Gene
Fredriksen, vice president of information security for Raymond James Financial,
in BT’s case
study report
. “More than 100 million e-mail messages a year come
through our servers to our more than 100 facilities around the globe. So, not
only did we want virus protection, we needed a centralized, enterprise-wide
approach to storing e-mails.” BT provided virus protection and message
archiving-services that not only saved millions of dollars in potential damage,
but also saved in overhead costs because they were able to take a rationalized,
enterprise-wide approach, Fredriksen estimates.

Unlike Raymond
James’ centralized approach to e-mail management and security, most banks use
multiple suppliers to provide software and services to support messaging: over
half use more than one supplier and almost one in five use more than four different providers. This makes it
almost impossible to assess TCO, let alone minimize the risks.

For this reason,
most IT managers see that there is a clear advantage in having a single point
for e-mail management: it simplifies the implementation of policies for
individuals and groups; it provides one user interface to centralize
administration; it lowers the cost of control; and it speeds up the response to

understanding of TCO in current messaging environments suggests that organizations
should look more closely at their current, complex, messaging set-ups,”
continues David Axford, senior research executive at

“The results
from this survey provide a valuable insight into the messaging challenges that
are shared by financial services organizations across two continents,”
adds Ray Stanton, global head of BT security practice. “It is clear that a
comprehensive secure message management solution can help ease the pressure on
many organizations’ messaging infrastructures.”