Tuesday, November 18, 2003

How much does spam cost South Africa?

The IT industry and those who report on it are known for their tendency to generate publicity (and business) by resorting to hype and paranoia.

Y2K, overblown virus fears, the dot-com bubble and assorted bits of FUD have made me extremely wary of information put out by the popular press on IT issues.

So you will understand my scepticism when I read claims that email spam costs South African companies between "R 7 billion and R13.1 billion a year". Others report the figure as a nice, round, R10 billion a year.

I remember the figure being discussed on the SABC 3 business program, but I don't recall them explaining how the figure was arrived at. According to another site, someone at the local "Spam Summit" came up with the figure, but it doesn't say how he calculated it.

Spam is a major problem, and it probably does cost a significant amount in lost productivity and wasted computing resources. But, until I can get a solid explanation of how that enormous price tag of around R10 billion for spam was arrived at, I will assume that the figure is just another example of IT hype, swallowed by a gullible media.