Tuesday, July 06, 2004

E-mail patterns map corporate structure

Apparently some HP researchers believe that they can show that by analysing the To/From fields in an company's emails they can map the corporate structure.
The researchers said graphing e-mail flow not only correctly identified communities within the organization, but it also provided insight into who the leaders of those groups were. It also helped to identify informal communities that arise when people need to communicate across departments or work collaboratively on projects. What's more, it took just a few hours to analyze the data and identify the groups and their leaders, the study said.
I wonder how long it will take before someone comes up with nefarious uses for this? Perhaps selling it to corporate bosses who want to know who is really the leader of the pack amongst their employees? Of course the results would be skewed if the employees decided to resort to untraceable email from outside the organisation for their more sensitive emails ...

On the other hand, the information they are reviewing seems pretty innocuous, after all it's just the To and From fields (perhaps also the CC and BCC, although the article doesn't mention them). I wonder if they could add date into the mix to track how relationships and patterns of influence change over time?

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