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Herman Trend Alert: Spam Affecting Productivity

When Joyce was in the direct marketing industry decades ago, she likened advertising mail (to call it “junk” was sacrilegious) to a flower that blooms in the wrong place. No matter how beautiful it was, it was characterized as “a weed.” So it is with unwanted advertising e-mails. We call them “spam.” According to a Reuters report out of London, spam now accounts for a full 90 percent of all e-mails. The report details that “criminal gangs using hijacked computers are behind a surge in unwanted e-mails peddling sex, drugs and stock tips.”

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Herman Trend Alerts are written by Joyce Gioia, a strategic business futurist, Certified Management Consultant, author, and professional speaker. Archived editions are posted at http://www.hermangroup.com/archive.html

From "Herman Trend Alert," by Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurists

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GREENSBORO, NC — When Joyce was in the direct marketing industry decades ago, she likened advertising mail (to call it “junk” was sacrilegious) to a flower that blooms in the wrong place. No matter how beautiful it was, it was characterized as “a weed.” So it is with unwanted advertising e-mails. We call them “spam.”

According to a Reuters report out of London, spam now accounts for a full 90 percent of all e-mails. The report details that “criminal gangs using hijacked computers are behind a surge in unwanted e-mails peddling sex, drugs and stock tips.”

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A U.S. e-mail security company called Postini reports that “The number of spam messages has tripled since June and now accounts for as many as nine out of 10 e-mails sent worldwide.”

Reuters observed that “As Christmas approaches, the daily trawl through in-boxes clogged with offers of fake Viagra, loans, and sex aids is tipped to take even longer.” Taking longer not only reduces productivity, but also increases the visibility of the “advertising” messages.

In November, Postini detected an astounding 7 billion spam e-mails across the globe, compared to 2.5 billion in June. About 200 illegal gangs are behind 80 percent of unwanted e-mails, according to Spamhaus, a spam-tracking agency.

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To create these billions of spam messages, millions of home computers are hijacked to send these increasingly annoying unwanted messages e-mails. These “zombie networks,” also called “botnets,” can link 100,000 home computers unbeknownst to their owners. These networks are then leased to gangs who use their enormous “free” computing power to send millions of e-mails with relative anonymity.

A study released last year by the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business reported that computer users spent an average of three minutes a day or 22.9 million hours per week deleting spam e-mail. That time translated to a loss of productivity and a financial loss of $21.58 billion per year. And that was last year when spam levels were far lower than they are now. All of these numbers make the case for a investing in more robust spam-blocking software to reduce the loss of productivity.

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Editor’s Note: While we at aftermarketNews.com certainly do not condone spam and recognize how intrusive and aggravating it can be, it’s very important to note that legitimate emails such as electronic newsletters are frequently mistaken for spam and filtered by email providers such as AOL. In the past, our own e-newsletter has been temporarily ‘blacklisted’ by AOL as spam, despite the fact that readers voluntarily request to receive our e-newsletter. In these situations, we have recommended that readers find an alternate email provider. At aftermarketNews.com, you have complete control of your own subscription to our e-newsletter. If you would like to update your subscription profile, simply click on the “Subscription Center” link at the bottom of today’s email.

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© Copyright 1998-2006 by The Herman Group of Companies, Inc., all rights reserved. Reproduction for publication is allowed by permission of The Herman Group, Inc., and must include the following attribution: "From ‘The Herman Trend Alert,’ by Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurists. (800) 227-3566 or http://www.hermangroup.com. The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group of Companies, Inc.

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