FINANCE SECTOR STRUGGLES WITH COST AND BURDEN OF EMAIL MANAGEMENT

BT survey reveals that majority of financial services IT directors questioned don’t know the cost and impact of messaging technology on their business

London, May 9, 2005 - According to a survey conducted by MORI on behalf of BT, 77 per cent of IT directors questioned at financial services firms in the USA, continental Europe and the UK do not know, or cannot calculate, the total cost of ownership (TCO) for their current message management infrastructure. This is despite the growing reliance on electronic communication channels.

The survey also shows that IT directors in the financial services industry are willing to/planning to continue increasing their budgets for secure messaging. Over the next three years, most firms expect to spend even more money protecting email and other channels against potential attacks. But the largest proportion of respondents – 65 per cent – expect to see increases in compliance costs over the next three years.

However, firms that currently outsource their messaging infrastructure, or would consider outsourcing in the future, expect the message management costs to decrease compared to those who keep the solution in-house. The one in five respondents who do currently outsource, or would consider outsourcing, are also more confident they will meet regulatory requests to provide a three-year audit trail within 48 hours.

Chris Hughes, marketing director, financial services, BT Consulting & Systems Integration, said: "Email is now widely recognised as the foundation of business communication. Electronic messaging channels are now considered viable media for taking orders, sending approvals and contracts, and discussing sensitive financial issues. It’s amazing that most firms can’t tell you how much their messaging infrastructure costs, yet continue to throw money at the problem with no difficulty at all.

"Of course, as financial services organisations open up their networks to clients and partners, they need to take the threat of spam, virus and denial of service attacks seriously to avoid any disruption to their business, and to ensure compliance with corporate governance regulations. But they need to manage these challenges based on a clear understanding of the cost of their current infrastructure."

The survey also shows that most organisations 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. Despite this, most respondents see there is a clear advantage in having a single point for management: simplifying the implementation of policies for individuals or groups; providing one user interface to centralise administration; lowering the cost of control; and speeding up the response to incidents.

David Axford, senior research executive, MORI, said, "Limited understanding of TCO in current messaging environments suggests that organisations should look more closely at their current, complex, messaging set-ups."

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

"BT’s own Message Management Platform (MMP) enables firms to meet the challenges identified in the survey by providing a complete range of anti-spam, anti-virus, content control, archiving, compliance and mailbox management tools, all accessed via a common management interface. It simplifies management and control across existing email systems, directories and messaging products, and protects investments already made in message management software and services, thus reducing the total cost of ownership."

Other key survey findings include:

- 86 per cent view viruses as significant issues for their organisation
- 81 per cent of IT respondents agree the threat of email anarchy is real for those companies that do not address message management correctly
- 78 per cent consider archiving a significant issue today. In the UK, this figure is as high as 90 per cent
- 64 per cent see viruses increasing in significance over the next three years
- 65 per cent of IT respondents expect a budget increase in compliance over the next three years
- 60 per cent of retail finance respondents say they want to increase email interaction with clients and 72 per cent say security is the biggest deterrent.

Already a number of financial services institutions are already benefiting from BT’s extensive experience in secure communication management and are taking advantage of the benefits of BT’s MMP solution. Discussions are underway with many more throughout Europe and the US.

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