Respond to the Changing Mobility Landscape


Can you believe we’re already at the end of 2018? Time seems to fly by faster year after year.

What I do: I’m responsible for evolving the active portfolio of mobility compliance solutions at Smarsh through direct assessment of customer objectives and analysis of business and technical market requirements.

What I’ve observed this year: I don’t just make this stuff up!

Listening to my customers (Global banks, Broker-Dealer firms, Insurance, Education and Local Government, Finserv of all shapes & sizes) at:

  • Partner Events: Microsoft, Cisco, Symphony, Blackberry
  • Industry Events: FINRA, SIFMA, GARTNER, ARMA
  • Our Events: Client Conferences, Customer Advisory Board, Executive Briefing series

Mobility is in a constant state of change, and managing all the connected technologies in the mobile world is about to get a whole lot crazier. Transformation-driven firms have a chance to tap into the incredible innovation spurred by evolving mobile communication technology and cloud computing but, in doing so, they have to rethink the fundamentals of their established applications, security, compliance, and organizational strategies.

New endpoints, new apps, and new business demands emerge on an almost daily basis. While leading organizations are using mobility as a competitive edge, IT is challenged to enable the secure and compliant use of services to meet these ever-changing requirements.

The stunning positive impact of the invention and mass proliferation of smartphones and tablets has also driven a chaotic period that required IT management to rapidly transform itself to manage the new normal of BYOD-driven endpoint security and management. As employees rapidly adopted mobile devices and a constant waterfall of new applications for business use, a challenge was created for organizations needing to capture and review business communications for regulatory or timely public records response purposes.

That challenge centers on recognizing the modern communications landscape for what it is now, not what it was. At our own Customer Advisory Board (CAB) event this year, I had some very interesting discussions with our large financial services customers. I attended a workshop focused on supervision and repeatedly heard participants confidently sharing their own best practices and recommendations of how they solve challenges. These leaders were not at all worried about their supervision “coverage” and were instead sharing how they use the Smarsh platform to drive their supervision strategy and workflows and ideating on what comes next.

The second workshop, was a bit different. The topic of that workshop was mobility and it was clear that there’s much more uncertainty and concern surrounding this topic than supervision. I heard varying examples of where organizations are now developing and creating a compliant mobile ecosystem leveraging our ability to directly capture and govern text messages in addition to the 80+ other content types we support. Some allowed Corporate Owned Personally Enabled (COPE) mobile device scenarios with approved corporate messaging platforms and carriers, some have Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) mobile scenarios with Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions that help wrangle a collection of applications, communications platforms and carriers, and many have both COPE and BYOD.

Financial services organizations worldwide are struggling with similar complexities when it comes to the specific mobile applications requested by employees at work (and widely used outside of work, by the way). While in the U.S. most employees want to text, in Europe they want to use WhatsApp, and in Asia-Pacific they use WeChat. These firms know that in order to be compliant they must capture, archive and supervise all these electronic communications according to the regulatory body. As you could imagine, multi-national corporations throughout the world are having a heck of a time trying to build the perfect, compliant, mobile ecosystem — which is why the interest in our solutions for mobile content continues to grow.

A Florida school district recently implemented a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program for its teachers but failed to set proper oversight requirements. When it was discovered that teachers had been texting students, parents were understandably upset. Had the district instead utilized a compliance solution that allows for the creation of additional “work” lines for teachers with all messages captured and all context intact, it could have avoided numerous costly lawsuits.

What lies ahead is the realization amongst IT, Security, and Compliance professionals that the capture and preservation of electronic communication data is about the user not the device. The internet of things has connected us to more devices and applications than have ever existed previously. The world of enterprise mobile communication is not locked down to devices – rather this new Enterprise of Things has driven us to a complex user-centric compliance strategy.

Global enterprise mobility is expected to hit $140 billion per year by the year 2020.

Workplaces are becoming increasingly mixed environments of mobile business communications. Some employees use personal devices to communicate for work purposes, others use work-issued devices, and a significant number use both. Without the right solutions in place to manage them, these preferences all expose organizations to compliance and security risks. In the past, many organizations have simply relied on prohibition to cover their regulatory bases, but time and again we’ve seen that this approach simply doesn’t work. Often, instead of following prohibition demands, employees will go around the rules and utilize their preferred communications apps anyway. That’s a big problem, as if your organization is prohibiting these channels, it’s necessarily not prepared to capture any communications that may flow through them. Organizations need to be able to satisfy supporting the latest mobility trends, whether BYOD, carrier-based, or a mixture of both – while staying compliant.

So, my advice: Avoiding the absolute need to create a road map before the mobility transformation could be disastrous for an enterprise. At Smarsh you can count on us to be your mobility transformation partner, because we work diligently and directly with key carriers, providers, and partners in the mobility space. We’re always aiming to be a few steps ahead by working with developers to put APIs in place to not only capture content, but to also store it in a single archive with native context preserved directly from the source. No flattening to a generic email format with our approach. No separation of content types into different silos either. We’re here to help you assess, plan and then transform your mobile ecosystem. If you’re ready to take the leap, contact us to get started with a no-obligation mobility assessment.

Prepare appropriately for a mobility transformation

Mobility strategy touches and impacts various key stakeholders within the organization from compliance, to security, to IT, to HR and legal, all the way through the capture, review, and response of electronic communications. As with all cross-department coordination it is critical to define clear goals and dedicate resources to appropriately facilitate all activities regardless of what kind of firm you happen to be. Public sector organizations need to ensure their communications landscape has been modernized to appropriately respond to records requests, meanwhile financial services firms are required to employ comprehensive supervision efforts. Why? Because e-discovery and litigation are a reality, and they happen often enough that putting in minimal effort is just inviting disaster.

Microsoft today announced FY19 Q1 earnings results. The revenue was $29.1 billion, and the operating income was $10 billion. Enterprise Mobility is a strong growth area for Microsoft and their installed base increased to 88 million (up from 82 million) which is a 55% growth.

Below are important steps for building a successful mobile transformation road map:

Unhappy user-experience = unhappy users!

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the technology that is the most important component during a mobility transformation — it’s the people. There was a time not too long ago when enterprise mobility was rigid, fixed, and siloed. Mobile governance was solely managed by IT and security, and they effectively bound the workforce to a minimally effective, communication-restrictive, often antiquated, company-owned device.

Happily, the past decade has quickly taught us that user convenience and information security can no longer exist in opposition to one another. A poor mobile user experience leads not only to employee dissatisfaction but also to the reduction of employee productivity by restricting the most important part of their job: communicating!

By building and adhering to a compliance platform with an ecosystem of best-of-breed integrated mobility partnerships, the enterprise ensures that best-of-breed, productivity-based mobility tools are in the hands of its employees. Further, compliance and security rests comfortably knowing that critical data from a plethora of mobility touchpoints is available for rapid search and review in accordance with response requirements.

Mitigating the risk of advisors using text messaging has been top of mind for the customers. No longer can it be acceptable to stand by a NO TEXTING policy.

Text messaging enables many advantages both for consumers and advisors, however maintaining compliance in using such medium can be seemingly complex and challenging. To ensure regulatory compliance (FINRA, SEC, MiFID II, TCPA), it is critical for financial organizations to have the proper text messaging policy in place.

Transformation will not materialize without executive sponsorship

Your mobility roadmap will continue to be a wish list or akin to a science project gone wrong with the absence of early and committed support from appropriate C-level executives. It’s also essential to communicate with all key business stakeholders early and often to keep them abreast of the progress of mobile transformation. This includes clearly defining the firm’s main mobility challenges, sharing updates of successful initiatives put into play, and seeking their input and assistance on challenges and roadblocks along the way. The list of mobility stakeholders must be inclusive of compliance, legal and HR, surveillance, IT, Security — and don’t forget the User Group! Every implementation must include detailed communication and tools for employees who are eligible to be enrolled and trained on rules and expectations.

Don’t forget about the blue print

A road map is step one, next comes the blue print. This is the architectural diagram used to measure where your enterprise is on the mobility transformation journey and provides a detailed blue print of the environment framework and steps to completion and should highlight dependences that will exist. Both the road map and blue print should be living documents updated every month.

Step 1: A Road Map

This includes:

  • Main mobility challenges
  • Current successful initiatives
  • Potential roadblocks

Step 2: An architectural diagram

This includes:

  • Where your organization is on its mobility transformation journey
  • A detailed blueprint of your current communications framework
  • Steps to completion

Maximize value by consulting with experts

Finally, it is important to align with experienced authorities to guide you through the next generation of a mobile, user-first revolution. Smarsh has invested in a dedicated Mobility team focused on strategic planning for the mobile empowerment of enterprise organizations with compliance needs. All organizations will benefit from diligent, even aggressive movement towards compliant mobile enablement as there will be hurdles throughout the process. We are here to help through formal mobility assessments and benchmarking by our expert mobility strategy advisors. Our team is dedicated to helping organizations get ahead – and stay ahead – of the risk within their electronic mobile communications.

Key recommendations:

  • Do not restrict your employees’ ability to communicate. Seek providers that empower all common communication scenarios including business-to-employee, business-to-partner, and business-to-customer including both BYOD and corporate-issued devices.
  • Companies can enhance their decision-making abilities as well as operational efficiency with the assistance of real time data feeds from all business mobility related endpoints. Do not accept solutions that present content capture without contextual formatting.
  • The mobile revolution has been a multi decade-long journey to the modern workplace. The past ten years were highlighted by the rise of the Operating Systems of Android and iOS mobile experiences, as well as an incredible growth of business-driven productivity APP services brought to market. This last decade has also focused on getting next-generation technologies and development tools in place. In the coming decade, we’ll see a greater focus on transformation, when actual workflows and business processes will fundamentally change to create new value propositions and new companies.


The requirement to capture and respond to all mobile business communication is no longer taken lightly by regulators. It’s high time industries got used to the idea of cohesively redefining strategies for both their mobility and archiving. Capture, Reveal, Respond!

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