How Digital Communications Drive Business Innovation

May 18, 2021by Smarsh

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Every organization today uses a diverse set of communications tools to stay connected, from standardized applications like email, chat and text messaging to dynamic conferencing, collaboration and mobile-native tools. The adoption of remote work has made these tools foundational to maintaining business continuity in an era that has significantly changed the way companies operate.

The impact of this evolution has been profound. Each new tool provides a unique experience for communicating: video and voice calls, collaboration on documents, group and private chats complete with gifs and emojis, encrypted and ethereal messaging, etc. And while it’s never been easier to communicate virtually, the trail of data that’s generated can expose organizations to a number of risks including breaches in cybersecurity, data privacy, internal policy and regulation.

Capturing and preserving these communications can help your organization manage risk and provide a line of defense when responding to e-discovery or regulatory inquiries. In addition, this data holds the key to valuable business insights. To best achieve this level of preparedness requires a content-agnostic platform that can index, normalize and play back captured data at scale.

Communications archiving: not just for compliance anymore

Managing the potential risks that lurk within an ever-growing volume and variety of communications is an ongoing organizational challenge. What had been a highly specialized, process-driven compliance function is now an all-hands-on-deck risk management obligation that involves legal, privacy, IT, customer insight and other departments.

Not to mention, demands for how to proactively manage and use communications data are increasing. Organizations can take advantage of this data to influence various parts of their business:

  • Improve communications governance and e-discovery
  • Cut IT costs and enhance resource utilization
  • Deliver key business insights captured from a complex set of content sources

These potential enhancements are driving organizations of all sizes, and from many industries, to adopt sophisticated cloud archiving strategies. Unfortunately, they are finding that many offerings available in the market do not fit their enterprise needs.

Not your grandparents' archive

Existing communications archiving systems aren’t designed to support today’s broad array of interactive tools:

  • IM/Collaboration: Microsoft Teams, Slack, Webex
  • Conferencing: Zoom, GoToMeeting
  • Email: Outlook, Gmail
  • Social media: LinkedIn, Twitter
  • Mobile messaging apps: WhatsApp, WeChat

These channels are used not only for internal collaboration but also for customer communications and partner exchanges.

Gaps in a platform’s ability to capture and preserve communications generated on these channels can obstruct the insights and context needed for risk management efforts and e-discovery demands. For example, archiving systems designed for email “flatten” dynamic, interactive content sources such as texts and chat messages into email format, losing key metadata and context as a result.

Leveraging a content platform designed to deliver against this content volume and variety improves accuracy and effectiveness in managing risk obligations. It also serves as the basis for information that can be leveraged by other applications, including content surveillance, business intelligence, and AI-enabled customer analytics.

But there are institutional barriers

However, the conversational complexity of multiple communications channels does create new IT complications in capacity planning, managing system availability, and ensuring that an archiving system will continue to perform adequately as content volume and variety continue to grow. Simply moving to “the cloud” does not address these challenges if an archiving solution was built on traditional architectures and email-centric technologies, designed for on-premise deployment.

Archiving content, metadata and context across multiple sources also elevates the importance of how information is stored. Reviewing a conversation that started on Microsoft Teams, continued on WeChat and ended on mobile text requires a common vocabulary that allows any source of information to be normalized across the entire archived data corpus.

"The limitations of today’s archives are a direct result of the underlying technology that the system is constructed upon, from the platform and the index engine to the archive database. You have to build a cloud-native application from the ground up to take advantage of the scalability, performance and high availability of public cloud services. "

-- Greg Vesper, Chief Technology Officer, Smarsh

The benefits of moving to cloud-based technology are extensive:

  • Support a content-agnostic approach (preserving any form of communications data, not limited to an email format)
  • Address modern dynamic content (including edits, deletes, entrances and exits from chats, document versioning, etc.) as well as static content
  • Capture and retain content and metadata in its native format
  • Enable easy integration with custom content sources and new networks

The next step: AI-enhanced analytics

Deploying a modern, scalable, content-agnostic communications platform is a prerequisite to addressing today's communications volume, variety and velocity. While the initial focus and objectives of these investments tend to focus on risk mitigation and cost reduction, firms often uncover an equally valuable result: the ability to leverage information as an asset. The product of all three is communications intelligence.

To review: communications intelligence is comprised of the strategies and technologies used for the collection and analysis of human communications data. It helps organizations quickly identify risks, recognize new business opportunities and improve operational systems. This shift has the potential to unite organizations around communications to completely reform how they do business.

We previously discussed how capturing content sets the stage for innovation. The third and final step to unlocking communications intelligence that we will cover is advanced analytics that can leverage data to reveal patterns, trends and business opportunities. Stay tuned.

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Smarsh handles information you submit to Smarsh in accordance with its Privacy Policy. By clicking "submit", you consent to Smarsh processing your information and storing it in accordance with the Privacy Policy and agree to receive communications from Smarsh and its third-party partners regarding products and services that may be of interest to you. You may withdraw your consent at any time by emailing privacy@smarsh.com.