The Role of Email in Knowledge and Records Management

Since the early 1990’s, email has been a core part of enterprise collaboration and communication. As I outlined in a webinar yesterday, hosted by Colligo and in support of their Email Manager for Office 365¬†solution, I shared some of the history and continued importance of email within Knowledge Management (KM) and Records and Information Management (RIM) strategies. If you’re interested, Colligo has a great whitepaper on the topic, which you can download for free: 4 Email Problems That SharePoint Can Solve Now.

For those who missed the webinar, you can find our slides below:

During my portion of the webinar, I tried to divide my time between three primary topics:

  1. an overview of Office 365 with a Knowledge and Records Management perspective
  2. a brief history of email as a key workload in the enterprise and how that has evolved to what we have today — and where it is going, and
  3. some of the infrastructural aspects of Office 365 and how it fits within your plans for Digital Transformation.

When most people think about Office 365, people probably think about the collection of individual workloads. In fact, in the earlier days of the platform, the quickest adoption came through Exchange — email as a platform is very mature, and most organizations are quick to recognize the benefits of moving their email infrastructure to the cloud. And so in the first couple years of the platform, a large percentage (over 70%) came from adoption of Exchange Online.¬†Of course, email is just one workload within Office 365, which provides a number of features and capabilities that are important to KM and RIM:

  • It’s a complete collaboration solution
  • It provides integrated experiences (Microsoft is adding to these almost every week)
  • It provides a unified security and compliance experience (which is also being extended regularly)

While I did not go through all of Office 365’s features and capabilities, I did focus on a few key points about how Office 365 plays an increasing role in KM and RIM to help the audience understand how these pieces come together to improve your business strategy.

While there are activities that are unique to the management and disposition of records, the line between these systems and our other collaboration and communications solutions has become blurred. In fact, I hosted a tweetjam last month on how Project Management and Collaboration lines are blurring. The reality is that most information worker activities generate knowledge and intellectual property, and you should be aware of and manage those assets. One point I made in the session was that much of this IP creation begins with email. But even more common is the tacit knowledge that is shared through email, social interactions, and conversations that provide context and value to our content.

Adding to the complexity of our content and records is mobile. Mobility has become increasingly important for users, which is why you see desktop, browser, and mobile versions of most every enterprise application. And that’s why you also need to understand your end user scenarios end to end, and understand where mobility scenarios could change your Knowledge and Records Management strategies. Whether we create documents, spreadsheet, and presentations, take photos or record videos and audio, or the tools and systems we use capture real-time transactional data, including location, state, progress made, and so on — we are constantly generating intellectual property that must be managed.

How does your organization manage email within the scope of KM and RIM? Are you losing valuable, contextual data by doing nothing? Something to think about…

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and an award-winning product marketer and technology evangelist, based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He is the Director of North American Partner Management for leading ISV Rencore (, leads content strategy for TekkiGurus, and is an advisor for both revealit.TV and WellnessWits. He hosts the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) series.