Few could argue that in today’s world of always-on, hyper-connectivity, email is the bedrock of business communication. For businesses of all sizes and across sectors, whether it is a design agency or a bike repair shop, email keeps the proverbial wheels turning within every modern enterprise. Despite its importance, many businesses – and particularly SMEs – fail to make informed choices when it comes to the email solutions available to them. This impacts security, efficiency, productivity and long-term profitability for SMEs. And given the escalating threat of corporate cyber fraud, with ransomware now a daily reality, security needs to be top of mind for every business owner. So where does one start when considering email solutions for a growing SME?
Outsourcing versus insourcing your email solution
The first question to consider is whether to outsource the solution, and choose a cloud-based product, or to insource your email and go with a traditional on-site mail exchange service. The cloud-based option makes far more sense for an SME from both a financial and security perspective, with leading cloud solutions from Microsoft Office 365, which has a dedicated SME bundle offering, and Google Enterprise. The key financial benefit for SMEs is that there are neither expensive licensing costs to deal with nor long-term contracts associated with cloud-based email – which allows businesses to scale up or down according to changing needs. In addition, there are no maintenance fees and there is a guarantee that email will be up and running 99% of the time. On-site mail exchange, in contrast, requires businesses to pay for monthly licensing fees, IT maintenance and repair, and the costs associated with downtime when the server goes offline (this is inevitable).
Leave email solution security to the experts
Solutions such as Office 365 and Google Enterprise have world-class security built into the offering. This enables business owners to rest assured that their email security is strong, and they can, therefore, focus on core business functions – keeping customers happy and growing their business. Having an on-site email exchange, however, requires business owners to take responsibility for security, and to purchase various security solutions. They will then have to continuously update these solutions to ensure that they are relevant in addressing new threats. Following the devastating WannaCry ransomware attack recently, it became very clear that SMEs are underestimating the threat of cyber fraud. Contrary to popular belief, WannaCry impacted more SMEs than it did larger corporates, largely because SMEs think they are not targets, and often turn off automatic security updates and patches. With cloud-based email solutions in place, SMEs benefit from high-level IT security at minimal cost and are well protected against the growing number of ransomware attacks now threatening businesses everywhere.
Guarding against the threat within
All too often, business owners fail to realize that the end-users within their environment are the biggest security concerns. When employees are retrenched, disgruntled or about to resign, there are very real threats around losing critical intellectual property and company data. For example, if an employee sends out highly confidential and valuable information to a competitor, does the business have a way of flagging such emails? Sometimes, employees are unaware of their errors and can release sensitive data unwittingly and in a non-malicious manner. Increasingly, cloud-based email solutions offer sophisticated gateway and mail filtering features that protect against data leakage and ensure both visibility and compliance across the business. With intellectual property laws (e.g. POPI) and data protection becoming increasingly critical, such solutions must be incorporated into SMEs today.
No more he said, she said …
Another important component of an email solution is archiving. This allows businesses to be not only compliant and gives them the ability to retrieve legacy emails if called upon. So, for example, if an employee deliberately deletes his/her entire mailbox when leaving the business, there is a way to quickly and easily retrieve everything using an archiving solution. This becomes a valuable capability in disputes over whether an email was sent before a certain deadline or not. When submitting documents for competitive tenders, for example, businesses are often told that their information/application wasn’t submitted in time. This can be as a result of servers being down, bad connectivity, or simple deceit/misinformation on behalf of the receiver. But with Email Archiving, the business has a way of proving otherwise. As the sheer pace and complexity of business heighten in a digitally-driven world, SMEs need to ensure that their IT solutions are a help – not a hindrance to growth. By starting with reliable and secure email solutions, SMEs can focus on their core purpose – and in so doing, drive innovation and expansion.