Is email still relevant in today’s business world? You bet. Despite the newer generation workforce seemingly more enthralled with new forms of communication, such as social networks, email still remains an essential link in the communication chain for industries like construction. That means builders need to find better ways for which to manage emails.

In 1993 AOL essentially brought the idea of email global, which means this form of communication being used in mass is 20 years old.

Take Alpha Construction Co. Inc., www.alphaconstruction.com, Van Nuys, Calif., for example. The residential builder, which focuses on construction projects in the affordable housing market in the Los Angeles area and throughout Southern California, needed a better way to handle the flow of email for its more than 25-person staff.

As with many builders, email plays a vital link in the communication and collaboration strategies for Alpha Construction, providing critical projects information and history of dialogues with clients and partners. The builder discovered the old method of using the Microsoft Exchange for managing the volume of emails was quickly becoming inefficient.

The company has been using a product called ArcMail Defender from ArcMail, www.arcmail.com, Bossier City, La., for the past year to help with archiving. Each email that flows in or out of the company’s Exchange server, including attachments, passes through this product and are compressed and written to the disk drive within the archiving appliance. According to the company, by using this method all email communication becomes instantly preserved and archived and can be retrievable in their original form at any time.

Here where this becomes critical: For rules regarding eDiscovery requests. This refers to the court-ordered mandate for requiring electronic records (such as email) to be used in litigation. With more and more communication on a construction project existing in digital form it is essential that emails can be archived in their original form.

Additionally, as noted by Gerald Hart, senior vice president and co-founder, Alpha Construction, it is no longer required for emails to be stored on the company’s Microsoft Exchange server.

As for data protection the ArcMail Defender is designed with two disk drives in a RAID (redundant array of independent disks) assembly where all email data is written to both drives simultaneously to ensure that at least one copy of the information is always available.

In general, the idea of streamlining email remains on the minds of construction companies across the board. Beyond access and eDiscovery concerns, some builders are debating whether a move to cloud-based email is better for business.

Results of the recently published 2013 Constructech IT Playbook show 34% of respondents have recently migrated email to cloud-based systems, with another 11% planning to do so in the next 12 months. With that, data security (66%) and data access (55%) remain the top-two concerns for construction professionals that are migrating any application to the cloud, including email.

Building on that note, a survey published this past June by Spiceworks, www.spiceworks.com, Austin, Texas, says 49% of companies in North America handle email on-premise, a percentage that seems to be trending downward. Last year roughly 52% were handling email on premise, according to the survey. On the flipside, results show 46% of companies use hosted email services today, as opposed to 42% last year.

Looking further into the trend, Spiceworks says when factoring in email plans six months ahead it believes 51% of respondents plan to be using cloud services.

As email celebrates two decades in our lives, the professional world, including construction, continues to deal with issues related to access, storage, and data security and discovery. The good news is more options are available to handle the load.