concept of archive, laptop with a row of files

From Mandatory Requirement to Valuable Business Enabler

Just because you have prohibited employees from communicating about business matters via any channel apart from email doesn’t mean your bases are covered. Mike Pagani explains how prohibition is not prevention, and why, for organizations in highly regulated fields, more concrete steps must be taken to mitigate risks and potential violations.

When it comes to archiving electronic communications used for business, the traditional drivers have been ensuring regulatory compliance for email and being prepared for legal events when they arise. Today however, there are new drivers that are causing organizations to invest in implementing advanced archiving technology and expanding its scope beyond simply email.

The reality is that businesses of all sizes and types are seeking to leverage the productivity gains and expanded reach newer and emerging non-email communications methods and channels offer – think social media, text messaging and collaboration platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams and others. In many cases, compliance and legal teams are playing catch up, as despite policies that prohibit the use of channels other than email, employees will use them when the need outweighs the risk in their minds – even if they have attested to adhering to the usage policies. In short, prohibition does not equal prevention.

Compliance and legal professionals within regulated businesses have been in a tough spot in recent years. Prohibiting the use of the new channels has been their typical response to limit risks and potential violations by restricting the number of channels allowed for business. Regulators have also stepped up their guidance and enforcement, being very clear that if a channel is used for business, it must be properly retained and supervised – just like email. The problem is that the approach of prohibiting or restricting usage does not enable the business to leverage the benefits of the newer channels and still leaves the organization vulnerable when employees use them anyway.

Ungoverned text messaging is especially problematic, as nearly every employee has an ability to use it, and it is the undisputed channel of choice when time-sensitive responses are needed. According to CTIA, the average response time for a text message is just 90 seconds, while the average response time for an email is 90 minutes.

The Big Shift

With the advent of best-of-breed comprehensive archiving solutions that are capable of automating the ingestion, indexing, supervision and rapid retrieval of virtually every popular channel being used for business these days, the role of archiving is becoming more of a business enabler versus a mandatory requirement to satisfy compliance obligations and prevent risks.

Rather than saying no to the adoption of the channels that employees know they need to use to be more productive, stay competitive and service their client bases properly, the organizations that are getting ahead have chosen to implement archiving platforms that support all of the channels and govern the content the same way they do their email. The best solutions feature a single archive for all of the supported channels so content can be searched and reviewed in a comprehensive way, versus maintaining separate data silos and disparate systems for various channels.

Net Result and Impact

With proper governance in place, compliance and legal professionals can confidently say yes to their employees and business leadership when a new channel for communications is deemed necessary or advantageous for various reasons and start to fully leverage the benefits. Due to advances in archiving technology, the effort and resources needed to supervise the content of messages for potential compliance violations and other risks has been dramatically reduced and has become a lot more intelligent with automated processes, highly intuitive and efficient workflows.

So, too, have the case management and e-discovery capabilities of leading archiving platforms, which results in even more business value when specific communications data is needed for a litigation event – especially if the conversations in question span multiple channels, which is very often the case these days. Having all the messages and content in a single “search-ready” archive reduces the typical initial discovery effort for a case from weeks to mere hours. Imagine the financial payback when legal resources for discovery run an average of $350 per hour.

The bottom line: Archiving is now being seen as a valuable business tool for what it allows the business to do as a result of making today’s dynamic communication methods safe to adopt and leverage, while also adding value to other parts of the business beyond compliance, such as legal teams. The future of archiving technology also holds a lot of promise for deriving business insights from the retained messages and content with the evolution of built-in analytics capabilities – something to look forward to as one more reason to start archiving all electronic communications used for business sooner versus later.


Mike Pagani

Mike Pagani is the Senior Director of Product Marketing and Chief Evangelist for Smarsh. Mike is a seasoned IT professional and recognized subject matter expert in the areas of mobility, identity and access management, network security and virtualization. Prior to joining Smarsh in November 2014, Mike held executive-level corporate and technology leadership/spokesperson roles for Stay-Linked, Quest Software, NComputing, Dell Software and others.

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