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    Why Email Is a Business’ Greatest Untapped Resource

    Despite the rise of numerous competing technologies, such as Slack and Communities, email remains the number one tool for business communication. According to a report by The Radicati Group, the number of worldwide email accounts continues to grow from over 4.1 billion accounts in 2014 to over 5.2 billion accounts by the end of 2018. With email so widely used, there is a huge opportunity to leverage the data it houses to unearth vast insights into everything from customer interactions to HR processes. This can be invaluable in alerting organizations to key opportunities, trends or risks.

    So why aren’t more businesses analyzing communications information to make smarter decisions about the ways in which they operate, both internally and with external stakeholders like customers, prospects and partners?

    To help businesses understand the value email analytics presents, Greg Arnette, founder and CTO of Sonian, has identified five ways enterprises can use email analytics augmented by machine learning to surface insights that can help them ward off risk and meet or exceed goals across their organizations.

    Why Email Is a Business’ Greatest Untapped Resource - slide 1

    Discover the Hidden Value of Email

    Click through for five ways enterprises can use email analytics augmented by machine learning to surface insights that can help them ward off risk and meet or exceed goals across their organizations, as identified by Greg Arnette, founder and CTO of Sonian.

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    Unearth Potential Security Risks

    According to PWC’s 2014 US State of Cybercrime Survey, more than one in four enterprise data security incidents come from inside. Oftentimes, this is the result of click-happy employees who open virus-ridden emails and unknowingly unleash security threats.

    Since employee emails are often the entry point for these attacks, business email analytics can serve as an early warning system, alerting businesses of key risks before they escalate into potential disasters. By leveraging data insights to identify trends associated with security breaches – e.g., suspicious emails from a repeat sender – businesses can implement preventative measures to ensure employees are equipped to handle potential risks. For instance, they may educate employees on ways to evaluate whether an email attachment contains a virus and what to do if they see questionable emails in their inbox.

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    Prevent the Loss of Intellectual Property

    Intellectual property (IP) is an organization’s most valuable asset, and companies need to do everything in their power to protect it. According to a report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, organizations worldwide lose five percent of their revenue to fraud – with much of it attributable to the theft of IP.

    To mitigate IP theft, businesses can employ proactive tactics to predict and prevent future loss. For instance, using data analytics, businesses can identify if employees are sharing proprietary information over email with competitors or outside groups. While companies cannot stop an IP leak from actually happening, they can put a stop to critical information sharing before it is widely spread, and identify trends in the email so they can flag if suspicious activity arises again in the future.

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    Pinpoint and Correct Inaccurate Messaging Used by Sales Teams

    By gaining a view into how sales teams are positioning a business’s brand or product, data insights can help businesses discover where the brand message is resonating, where it’s falling short or where it’s inaccurate. This has huge implications for sales teams’ ability to be successful: Using the most current, effective messaging that accurately articulates the role and value of a company’s solution can ensure that prospects are clear on what is being offered to them and how it can benefit them.

    Marketing teams work hard to craft messaging that reflects the company’s brand, often in nuanced ways. Unfortunately sales teams don’t always stay “on brand,” a fact that often isn’t discovered until it’s been happening for a long time. Should sales-team leads notice that employees are using outdated or incorrect messaging by analyzing communications data, they can make time to connect with individuals and train them on proper messaging, highlighting why it’s used and the value of a consistent, compelling brand voice. This will help internal teams ensure better engagement with prospects, customers and partners, and present a consistent brand identity to the world.

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    Gain Clarity on Sales Forecasting

    Sales forecasting charts the course for sales and, ultimately, business success. Accurate sales forecasting sets realistic expectations for what can be accomplished and communicates to higher-ups what they can expect in terms of performance. However, many sales teams have failed to meet their goals due to unrealistic forecasting and it’s often difficult for managers to trust that what’s reported in the CRM system is an accurate reflection of reality.

    Now, however, new technologies mean sales leadership can leverage communications data to generate more accurate forecasts by validating their sales teams’ activities. By analyzing the conversations between their team and prospects, sales managers can get never-before-possible insights into whether salespeople are talking to the right individuals at target companies (i.e., those who have the authority or influence to move a deal forward); benchmarking how well they engage prospects with compelling messaging, how frequently they correspond with targets and how close they are to closing deals. As a result, sales leaders can now have a much higher level of confidence that the forecasts in their CRM systems reflect the true status of deals.

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    Identify Subject Matter Experts

    When tasked with projects that are outside their core focus areas, businesses must decide if they want to use in-house resources or external consultants to get the job done. To help make this decision, companies can utilize data insights to identify potential in-house experts who can help them solve the problem at hand – just as well as or better than consultants.

    For instance, if a company wins a project related to “content marketing,” it can leverage an email analytics platform to pinpoint any email communications around this topic. If an employee has spoken about content marketing a lot, the project lead may connect with that person to see if they can help before looking for help outside the organization. Identifying an internal subject matter expert can not only free up time that would typically be spent on process training for an external source, but can also provide the same amount of value, if not more – at a fraction of the cost.

    The identification of subject matter experts, particularly within large, distributed organizations, is a function often filled by internal communities. The reality is that not all SMEs in an organization actively participate in these communities, a necessary prerequisite for generating the data necessary to identify them as such. Email’s ubiquity as a communications medium, on the other hand, means that all the breadcrumbs for identifying hidden subject matter experts within large organizations are already there.

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    Conclusion

    A company’s email data is the most complete record of its activity, history and resources. These emails — and the information they contain — are largely viewed in a transactional sense and their value as a treasure trove of secondary insights for businesses goes largely unrecognized. With the ever-growing ocean of communications data organizations generate, successful companies will be the ones that can mine that data for additional, often transformative insights helping them identify and take advantage of hidden opportunities and mitigate risk.  

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