Managing the use of email in Telstra
journal contributionposted on 06.06.2017, 01:53 by Allen, Wendy, Bell, Wendy
Telstra has grown critically dependent on electronic mail, the 'process of sending letters, documents, and messages between computers' (McKeown and Leitch, 1993:585). At least half a million messages are sent each week over the WAN 1 , a growth rate of fifty percent per year. This amazing rate of growth is a global trend. The Australian Financial Review in December 1996 reported that "more e-mail messages were sent worldwide last year than letters - 95 billion compared with 85 billion - as e-mail rapidly outpaces the post" (1996:2). Given this increasing need for corporate information sharing2 , networking and flexible organisations3 , computer-linked work groups4 , and domestic and international stategic alliances5 , email, like many other IT applications, is increasingly being viewed not only as a strategic and competitive tool, but as a crucial resource which needs to be managed. As a primary telecommunications provider, Telstra has always been a rich site for research into the adoption and usage of information and communications technologies. Australia's largest employer for much of its existence, it has had over a decade of experience in the organisational use of email. Despite this, the anecdotal evidence which stimulated this research, suggested that while Telstra users wanted email, they believed it was no longer the effective business tool it should be; that it was over-used or abused, or had become a frustrating time waster. Despite the existence of several policy studies within Telstra, and the circulation of internal documents aimed at setting business and legal guidelines for email usage, no corporate-wide policies are in place to manage the optimal use of email as a strategic communications tool 6 Many users were unaware of, or in some cases resistant to, policies affecting them. Managers, keen to develop policies to provide guidelines for the optimal use of email as a strategic communications tool; were asking questions about why people were using so much email, and how much of it was really necessary?