Collaboration tools are helping organizations save time and work together while reaching a broader audience. The potential risks associated with these dynamic channels are what firms need to be prepared for. In this webinar, we will go over the advantages to giving employees the tools they need to communicate and how to use technologies to help mitigate the risk these dynamic communication tools create.
Watch this webinar to learn more about:
- How productivity and customer immediacy goals are driving investment in collaboration
- How firms are managing new functionalities offered by Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Webex Teams
- What new communications risks are introduced by interactive tools?
Senior Director of Information Governance, Smarsh
Robert Cruz is Senior Director of Information Governance for Smarsh and Actiance. He has more than 20 years of experience in providing thought leadership on emerging topics including cloud computing, information governance, and Discovery cost and risk reduction.
Principal, Wellington Consulting
Brian Hill is a Principal at Wellington Consulting. In this role and in leadership positions at IBM, EMC, and Oracle as well as serving as a Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, he has over two decades of experience in strategy development and in helping enterprises and vendors develop, implement, and articulate successful approaches for collaboration, content services, information governance, and cloud computing.
Transcription of Webinar Audio
Davi Schmidt: Hi everyone. We're going to give people a few minutes to join, and we'll begin the webinar shortly.
Davi Schmidt: Hello everyone, thank you for joining us for today's webinar, Assessing the Benefits and Risks of Today's Collaboration Tools. Please be aware that all participants will be muted for the duration of the call. Feel free to submit any questions you have via the on 24 messaging app and we'll attempt to answer as many of them as possible during the Q&A at the end of the demonstration.
Davi Schmidt: Joining us today are presenters Brian Hill and Robert Cruz. And with that, Robert, I'll hand it over to you.
Robert Cruz: Thank you Davi and thank you everyone for joining. Appreciate your spending the next hour with us. So we're going to dive into the benefits and risks of today's collaboration tools, and what we're seeing is that the clients we're talking to are really seeing a significant impact to their business from Microsoft Team from Slack, from other interactive collaborative mechanisms that are really making an impact in terms of changing the way they do business.
Robert Cruz: First let me provide the standard disclaimer that Smarsh will provide this information for informational purposes only. We do not provide legal advice or opinions, you must consult with your attorneys regarding compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
Robert Cruz: Just getting to the subject at hand today, we'll first provide some brief introductions. Then we'll dive into both parts of the equation. Talk a little bit about the benefits that companies are both setting out to achieve which collaboration tools, and what are they actually realizing. So we'll hit that component. And then talk about the risks, some of the exposures that companies are finding themselves in as they deploy these networks. And then get to the question of how you balance these things. For all the benefits these are providing companies, how can you ensure that you're accounting for the risk and making sure that your compliance protocols are addressing these areas. And we'll finish with a brief overview of how Smarsh can help organizations to be more effective in dealing with these collaborative opportunities.
Robert Cruz: By way of introduction I'm very happy to be joined today by Brian Hill, an expert in this area. A principle at Wellington Consulting, been looking into this unified communications and collaboration space for a number of years. So Brian, thanks very much for joining us today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Brian Hill: Great, thanks for having me, Robert. Glad to be here, looking forward to a really good, interactive discussion. As Robert mentioned I'm a principle with Wellington Consulting. Prior to that I've worked with a large number of technology companies, including IBM, EMC, Oracle as well as I've been an analyst with Forrester Research and throughout a couple of decades looking at this space I've been helping organizations set strategy and been helping enterprises with identifying and developing and implementing strategies around collaboration and compliance and information governance generally. Again, looking forward to a really good interactive conversation today.
Robert Cruz: Thank you Brian. Thanks again for joining. And for myself, my name is Robert Cruz, I'm the managing director of right information governance practice. My responsibility here is basically to work with our clients, the practitioners that are evaluating our technology and trying to determine how to best leverage it to address their specific regulatory and discovery challenges. I've been in this market for a number of years, prior to this I've worked in the enterprise content space as well as in the discovery market.
Robert Cruz: With that, let me just provide a quick overview of the company for those of you that may not be as familiar with Smarsh as an organization. Been in this market for over 15 years, the company has established itself as a leader in regulated industries in financial services and government in particular. What we're providing is basically technology to allow for us to capture and store this variety of communications that their doing business through, both interacting with clients as well as internally collaborating.
Robert Cruz: We focus and bring specific expertise in the areas of supervisory review for compliance as well as e-discovery for litigation and investigation. Recognized as a leader both from Forrester as well as Gartner and this organization now is a combined entity representing both the Heritage Smarsh side as well the acquisition and integration with the company that was Actiance. And so a very strong leadership position in the market overall.
Robert Cruz: Just before we start, as Davi mentioned at the top of the hour, we’d definitely like to engage with questions that come in. So, we'll try to address those as we go. We encourage you to use the Q&A panel at the bottom of the screen. And for those questions that we don't have time to address along the way we'll cover toward the end of the discussion.
Robert Cruz: Let's talk first about, what are the drivers here? What's really making collaboration as hot as it is? And I like to start with this picture, the picture of the demographic changes that are happening within all the organizations we deal with. The large firms, the small firms and really this chart is indicating that you're seeing changes in demographics going from generation to generation where a preferred network that individuals would like to interact through has really shifted to where now you see the millennials and the Gen Z folks that are looking for this interactive experience, the responsiveness, the ability to generate a very high response rate to a text message. Looking for that bonding or that closer ability to interact with your customer. So this is affecting every company that we talk to, so Brian, tell me what you see here in terms of the demographic changes and the preference for all of these new tools.
Brian Hill: That's right Robert. Definitely one size does not fit all, but we are seeing that there's some really major changes. Now employees and customers and communicating and collaborating partly based on generational differences. For example, millennials, already the largest segment in the workplace, are considered digital natives and as Robert said they have a very strong preference for more immediate and responsive communications, text and chat and a variety of other collaboration tools. And basically the millennials and Gen Z folks have grown up with a device that's been tethered to their hand and email is not their default mode of communications. In contrast, the baby boomers, that's very much how they communicate. Digitally via email and they also rely a lot more heavily on in person meetings.
Brian Hill: Just to bring this home from my own personal example, I've got two boys, 12 and 14, and of course they have smart phones, they've had them for a couple of years now. They're certainly using different chat and other communications tools, but neither one of them has bothered to install email on their phones and don't really have any plans to. So in any case, it's quite clear from this slide that different generations collaborate differently and we're seeing a rapid rush to newer communications and collaboration tools, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams and then the others, led in big part by the younger generation of employees.
Robert Cruz: And I'm seeing the same thing. My kids are slightly older, but I think I sent them an email when they were 14 and they still haven't responded to it. So I get a media message response on a text. And the items that we're capturing on the lower left in the box, those are all part of these collaborative platforms. And so when you look at this area of technology, it's not new. We've been looking at collaboration and what was unified communications for a number of years going back to the telephony based systems and I think when you look at this investment now, I find it interesting just understanding what companies are trying to achieve. Why are they investing in Teams and Slack?
Robert Cruz: Talking through some of the things you see companies wanting to get out of this investment over time, why is this beneficial to their businesses? What are some of the common things here?
Brian Hill: Sure, the quick answer is it depends. Organizations are definitely investing pretty heavily in new collaboration tools, but the path to get there really varies quite a bit. For some organizations individual routes may be faced with some limitations. For email maybe they're finding that the response times, as Robert mentioned, are simply not sufficient. They won't be as extreme as Robert's example, but it's an asynchronous method of communications and doesn't have the instantaneous, more results oriented result that these newer tools provide. So in some cases it may be a small group that get flustered with that.
Brian Hill: Another case is it may be a top down approach led by the CTO or other senior executives in the organization that look across their organization and may see a whole range of different collaboration applications and realize that there's some big barriers in communicating across those. So it may be at top down approach. But, regardless of which path that organization is taking to achieve these, generally they're looking to improve productivity. For example, they may be looking to reduce email, they may be looking to improve cycle time by having all the information combined. In a workplace for example, leaders are able to make better decisions faster having aggregated information as opposed to being siloed in different emails. You're able to have much more efficient customer service for example, certainly if there are a large number of disparate collaboration tools that there can be opportunities to cut costs. So, it really depends, but these are all benefits that companies are achieving. So it's pretty clear that the value propositions for collaboration are real.
Robert Cruz: I think you said some very important things there. Number one, it's the push and pull. You may have an objective within engineering just to improve collaboration, so they may have been on Jira and now looking for some system that talks to that application, whereas IT may be pushing the move to Microsoft Teams from Skype for Business because they have to.
Robert Cruz: And so let's see what we've learned in terms of who's actually achieving these goals? And I think you said some things that are very specific here in terms of, the ability to reduce the number of meetings you want to attend or the volume of email that you have to deal with. Are companies actually realizing those objectives? So, we have a couple of different studies here. I think both are interesting from Slack as well as Teams. Talk us through some of the key things you see here in terms of the metrics that companies have realized.
Brian Hill: Sure. So, as opposed to the more generic results that we talked about on the previous slide, it turns out that effectively using collaboration tools can generate some solid measurable results. Here we've got some high level analysis from IDC and Forrester and it's pretty clear that organizations are capturing some measurable gains. For example, a lot of individuals across most organizations struggle with massively overburdened inboxes. So these IDC/Forrester studies show what strong collaboration tools could cut email messages roughly 15-30%. So, that's a pretty clear gain.
Brian Hill: Comparably the research shows that companies can cut in person meetings by about 20%. Having fewer and more effective meetings can really yield some big savings. So in addition to cutting emails, having fewer meetings, having less requirements for overnight travel, there are a variety of other less quantifiable benefits that we also should highlight here. For example, being able to foster better remote worker engagement, helping organizations create more inclusion and support a workforce across different generations.
Brian Hill: Want to point out quickly on this slide that there are some very measurable benefits that organizations can and are achieving. The number on the bottom right is showing an 832% ROI, seems a little bit high to me, but even if you were to cut that number in half it's still a very significant gain. So these are real benefits that companies are getting today.
Robert Cruz: And you would realize or be familiar with the analysis that went into that from the Forrester perspective. There are 600 tabs in the spreadsheet that calculated that number, but clearly you can see here the proof of the illustrations that this is why work is changing, this is why companies are communicating and collaborating differently than what they were. And so you see what is driving the business side of the discussion here.
Robert Cruz: Let's go a little further in terms of what are some of the things that are the consequences of the fact that people do end up with multiple platforms. We talk to a number of firms that have deployed Teams but also have Slack, they may be looking at or using Cisco Webex teams, there may be other platforms from Zoom or RingCentral, there are others that are also in the mix. 42%, by the data that we have in front of us, indicate they have these multiple collaborative platforms. What are the implications? What does this mean ultimately for a company that ends up in this situation?
Brian Hill: First off, I would argue that that number, 42%, is actually quite low. Most organizations that I engage with actually have several different communications and collaborations tools. It may be that some of the IT folks who responded to this particular survey may simply not even be aware of all the different tools that these workers have. So it's, especially for the last few years, it's really been the Wild West of collaboration with different groups introducing their own cloud based tools without the need for IT involvement, and they've done this for their own individual reasons. Typically, you may have an engineering group that needs to collaborate around a specific set of engineering programs, maybe they're helping to rush a product to get to market very quickly, perhaps there's a customer service team that needs to collaborate very quickly and efficiently around a particular large client, maybe they want to streamline their customer service process or their sales process.
Brian Hill: But effectively you've got different functional silos within organizations that oftentimes have rolled out these sorts of applications based on their own specific needs. And so, as a result most organizations today really have a hodge podge of different collaboration tools within their environments.
Robert Cruz: And I think you would also presume that this is not just a function of being a large firm. You may be a smaller firm that's merged with another organization-
Brian Hill: Absolutely.
Robert Cruz: That's allowed these different functional differences that exist.
Brian Hill: Or the same also could be true across different geographies. Say that there may be a preference in the United States for a certain type of collaboration tool that may be very different for European customers.
Robert Cruz: Right. So it's a very crowded market, there's a lot of components of these platforms that are provided by individual technology companies. But, I think ultimately this boils up to a couple of growths. That Microsoft Teams versus Slack discussion now seems to be happening very frequently within organizations and clearly you see Teams being the most successful product in the history of Microsoft, 91% of the Fortune 100 using that technology. But Slack, with the explicit goal of eliminating the use of email and just what they've done with their IPO, you see the adoption on the Slack side. A little worrisome the dimensions or dynamics you see here as these companies fight with one another.
Brian Hill: I think it's quite difficult to get rid of email entirely, but these tools in particular, Microsoft Teams and Slack are making some really major headway. Not just in large enterprises but also in small and mid-size organizations too. There are a variety of reasons for this. For example, Microsoft has the very strong advantage of having an extensive reseller network. The fact that they have some interesting licensing options with other comparable tools and by the way, these applications work better with Office. Slack on the other hand, also has some really strong advantages and they have the benefit of going after this market pretty hard and very early. So on the prior slide I did mention that there are a number of different collaboration tools, that's certainly the case and I expect that to continue being the case, but we are seeing that Microsoft Teams and Slack are really gaining a lot of traction in the market and we do expect that this will continue and organizations really should take a close look at that as they're evaluating different collaboration options.
Robert Cruz: And I think suffice it to say that this is going to continue to grow, you're going to continue to see this variety of technologies out there, and firms should be preparing for this heterogeneity. You've got to now think about integration of these different technologies. So, the benefit component, we've established I think a clear picture here of what are firms gaining from their investment in these collaborative tools.
Robert Cruz: Now, before we turn to the next section of the risk, I want to call out a housekeeping item. A few of the comments came in regarding the audio—this webcast is being streamed. And so what you may want to do is close out some of your other applications which could be stealing some bandwidth. That may help your audio quality, just making sure you've got sufficient bandwidth to be able to get the audio stream and hear properly.
Robert Cruz: Let's get to the topic of risk. I think what we see on the Smarsh side is this is where a lot of our conversations start because we're looking through the lens of risk management or compliance, but in the broader context this whole growth and evolution and heterogeneity of collaboration is really part of a bigger issue. Which is, there are a variety of tools, we have large clients that have 60 plus different communication networks. And I think what more firms are recognizing is that you now have the opportunity where risk and value can live anywhere. And so Brian when you look at just the fact that companies are now supporting the use of collaboration tools and social media and text messaging, the world is outside of email, the genie is out of the bottle. What are some of the issues here you see companies wrestling with because of this broader adoption of these very distinct technologies?
Brian Hill: It's extremely difficult for organizations to identify where the most risk lies within their organizations. Email’s obviously a sweet spot and it's an area where companies have been focused for a long time, but as we've mentioned, there are a huge number of other collaboration tools out there. Being able to simply have a map of what these different sources are and then separately being able to assess what the risk profile is for each of these different collaboration tools is a really important endeavor. And keep in mind that the vast majority of these collaboration tools don't have any capabilities for retention and disposition whatsoever. So this poses really quite a bit of risk for organizations.
Robert Cruz: Yep. I think the bigger picture here from my point of view is that there is a lot more interactive means of talking with clients as well as collaborating internally. Not just based around text but based on the introduction and the integration of video and voice and application sharing and emojis and other ways that people are now bringing in these new modalities. But to your point on the collaboration area specifically, a couple of recent things that have taken place which I highlighted this, number one, recently a Slack outage and for firms that are relying primarily on Slack as the means where you store this data, then that creates a challenge if you have an obligation to meet a books and records requirement, if you're a regulated firm.
Robert Cruz: And again, going back to the goal of Slack, attempting to replace email. Well, email has some pretty specific cultures and rules around it. People know what they can and cannot do. A lot of these collaboration tools don't have guardrails. So people may not know exactly what can and cannot be shared over a collaborative network. And so mentioning the retention is one area, but clearly there's a number of other concerns that may come up in the course of deploying some of these collaborative networks.
Brian Hill: Absolutely. As Robert was eluding to, organizations may have had some sort of formal training and may have set policies for traditional collaboration tools like email, but they very well may not have that for the newer sets of tools. And having the policies and the training to reinforce that is critical.
Robert Cruz: Just the training—being more explicit we'll talk to some of the things firms can do. But I think just the last point is bulleted here because ultimately when you're dealing with a firm that has regulatory or discovery obligations, they need to be able to understand who said what to whom, and what took place in a persistent chat. Well, how do you do that if a persistent chat is changing every five minutes and another post is introduced and somebody is placing files into that chat? And now you've got this whole interactive trail of things that have to be understood by a compliance officer, or by a legal team. There are many more dimensions to what needs to be understood now. And that's pretty difficult to do if you're looking through a tool that's designed for emails.
Brian Hill: That's absolutely correct. And just to reiterate Robert's point, being able to sift through the different communication modes within a given application can be very tough, and as Robert, you mentioned you can potentially lose a lot of the context, but what's even more challenging for organizations is trying to blend together that comprehensive view across different types of collaboration tools and different communications and being able to put those all together so that you actually do have the full context. That's really critical. And then of course, being able to apply consistent retention and dispositions across not only just a single type of content or communication tool, but across multiple.
Robert Cruz: Right. And to make the analogy would be something along the lines of if you want to understand what took place in a trial, you can look at the artist rendering of the principles. Sometimes though that rendering is pretty poor, versus having the stenographer, or be in the room itself, to really understand the dynamics and all of the activity that was associated with that particular event. So very different.
Robert Cruz: This goes back to the demographics that we talked about earlier. A lot of firms are now attempting to wrestle with these new multi-modal interactive tools with technology that was deployed by a previous generation of communications or designed for email or designed for things that were very much static and lacking these interactive aspects. So the risks, clearly a number of things that firms are wrestling with to make sure that they're not introducing compliance gaps, there's not risk that maybe introduced as they deploy these networks. So, let's get to the "so whats". What are organizations doing? What are some of the emerging best practices that were seeing as companies deploy these networks in order to ensure they're not slipping in their governance protocols?
Robert Cruz: Governance, let's start here. Because I think if you look at the ability to implement and execute your policies reliably, whether those are retention, whether those are just ensuring that you know where there's high value information that now may be traveling on these networks. What we're seeing is that there's a lot of companies adapting and refining their policies so that they are addressing what their employees can now do on these collaborative networks. And that's a key theme that we're seeing over and over. What are some of the things you're seeing Brian?
Brian Hill: I think that it's important to look at governance as really the foundation for what organizations should be focusing on. What I see again and again is that many organizations aren't coming in firefighting modes so that many of them are taking a reactive position here, so that they may be hit with some litigation or perhaps they're in some compliance hot water because of email. And great, okay, almost all of them have a solution around email, but what's challenging is that as these new communication tools pop up throughout their organization or are driven top down through their organizations, they may not have the same tools to control retention, disposition and provide appropriate review and analysis and so forth.
Brian Hill: And so they get caught in a firefighting mode and trying to reach out and recapture conversations and exchanges across disparate collaboration tools is really a nightmare, and in some cases it may not be possible. So that poses really quite a bit of risk, and of course being able to focus on this from a proactive standpoint as opposed to a reactive standpoint not only saves time but also is much more cost effective. So simply getting rid of the content that you no longer need for your business is critical, and most of these collaboration tools don't have a good way of disposing of that content in accordance with retention policies and provided that that content's not subject to litigation or investigations.
Robert Cruz: Right. And I think that that point of the evaluation of these technologies, what I interpret as being proactive doesn't necessarily mean you have to start archiving things that you may not have archived in the past. If that was not your policy, companies are not going to change the way they do things. But, you at least can establish some governance processes up front where IT, legal and compliance can be involved in the evaluation of these technologies so that you know the risks, your eyes are open before you make that decision to invest in that particular tool.
Brian Hill: That's absolutely correct. So what I see again and again in different organizations is that IT, legal and compliance typically operate in their own silos, there may be limited communication across these teams, but in order to address governance effectively these groups, and others including security and privacy and the business users themselves, need to collaborate to establish the right policies to set up the right training, to make sure that they're picking the right source of technology. And just to reiterate a point I made earlier, you've got to have that retention and dispositions, you've got to get rid of this content so that it's not just continuing to build up because that's an increasing pile of potential litigation and risk for you. But, it's also really important for these different teams to collaborate for any type of effective strategy.
Robert Cruz: Right. And I think that last point to me says don't repeat the lessons of SharePoint, because if we just make this available and you ultimately end up with a dumping ground where there is just a large repository of stuff, unless you have somebody that's owning that particular area of technology, there's onboarding and off boarding processes-
Brian Hill: That's right.
Robert Cruz: There's clear ownership for who is responsible for this new collaboration tool.
Brian Hill: Yep. Absolutely.
Robert Cruz: Great. Well let me provide an outside resource some firms may want to take a look at, and this is something that just was recently published. It's a document that provides guidance. [inaudible 00:31:55] conference is a thought leader in the area e-discovery, and they just updated what was some earlier guidance on social media and what they call that was the interactive dimension that now collaboration is bringing. And there's some important considerations here. The fact that courts, and folks that are doing review are paying attention to this, I think it's also going to reflect in the way that regulators begin to look at this.
Robert Cruz: And some of the key things that I extracted from this document, number one, is that rely upon a providers API as a best practice. And that means, for me is that look for some of these collaboration tools that enable you with an effective mechanism to capture this content. Not just trying to reactively grab the messaging information, but for those providers that do provide an API, it's giving you the ability to understand and capture the content, the metadata, the other event information, that's fairly important. Beware of relied upon practices including downloads services. Just the things you might have done to capture information off of Facebook or Twitter, those self serve mechanisms may not be sufficient when you look at this interactive information.
Robert Cruz: And also just considering is your technology you have today suited for purpose? If you have archiving or legal review or supervisory tools that really understand the subject, body head or attachment of an email, can they really understand the dynamic and interactive nature of what these collaboration tools are? So I think important considerations are here from the legal perspective which I think will affect governance overall.
Brian Hill: Yep, absolutely.
Robert Cruz: Let's get to the training aspect. You mentioned that briefly, but I think the training part here to me is critical. Because individuals need to know very clearly what they can and cannot do with these collaborative tools. What kind of information can be shared, what should be prohibited. So, what do you consider here that the key things from a training point of view of the employees?
Brian Hill: So a lot of organizations miss this point. So a lot of organizations are focused on addressing this challenge clearly from a technology perspective, and that simply doesn't work. There is no silver bullet from a technology perspective. The human capital element is really, really critical. So the training here needs to be very explicit, the policies need to be set up well in advance, as we mentioned coordination across the different groups. The training around those policies needs to be very explicit, it needs to be repeated on a regular basis, and also the training needs to cover the additional tools that may come in. As Robert mentioned earlier, the organization may have great training around email, but might not necessarily have it for Slack or for Teams, and it's important to cover that and to understand the different features and functionalities that these tools have and what's allowed and what's not.
Robert Cruz: Yep, exactly. And just the idea that this an iterative process that it's not just putting the training manual on the shelf, it's the ongoing training and reinforcement recognizing that these networks are going to be dynamic and new features and modalities will be added and there will be other collaborative tools that are likely to emerge within your organization.
Robert Cruz: Let's get to the supervisory aspect, or for anybody whose responsibility is to examine your content looking for risk. How do you adjust your review protocols? And just the one principle I like to take from this area of conversation is the idea that individuals who have intent on wrongdoing will go to a place where they think you aren't, if you're the reviewer or the attorney or the person running the investigation. So that may be on a messaging app, or that may be a place where they believe it's not part of your overall supervisory routines. So what would you say would be key things for companies to adjust and adapt their supervisory processes to inflect all these new more dynamic communication sources?
Brian Hill: I think it's important to realize first you can't boil the ocean, you can't tackle all these different tools at once. And again, an organization may have several of them within their organization and you need to prioritize, you need to identify where the areas of highest risk are first and address those first, but do so as part of a more comprehensive plan. You need to provide overall guidance from a policy perspective and from a training perspective and look for some technologies that will allow you to span across multiple different collaboration applications. So again, you can't tackle everything at once, but I would strongly encourage organizations to focus where their highest risk profiles are across these different tools.
Robert Cruz: Yeah, that's great advice. I think that's something that we're seeing and generally very high demand for having the ability to bring all the communications that you support into a central location where you could provide that review. I'm going to see Brian's communications recognizing that there may be a conversation that started on Teams that moved to Slack that went to WeChat, or some other network. And so having the ability to see all of this area is something we see a lot of interest in from the firms we talk to.
Brian Hill: That's clearly a point where a lot of organizations struggle. They may have the ability to do that for perhaps email and maybe one other application, but spanning across multiple different collaborations is really tough for a lot of organizations.
Robert Cruz: Exactly. So this is really good stuff here just in terms of the benefits and the risks, and I guess the question for me then is so what? What would you see to be two or three major points that firms can take away as they deploy or as they evaluate these collaboration tools? What are some of the key points that you would consider top of the list?
Brian Hill: First off it's key to realize that these changes are happening now, that this is not something that you can bury your head in the sand about. You need to address this now. The generational changes are driving really big shifts in how employees and customers communicate and you need to get out in front of that. So we talked about some of the reasons why organizations are choosing these tools. The reduction in email, fewer meetings, less travel required, better overall sense of information so that they can respond more quickly to making decisions or improving customer service or any number of other benefits.
Brian Hill: These changes are happening and again, in some instances see this from a small group perspective that could be an engineering group, or a marketing group, or a customer service group that's driving their own particular changes around collaboration and implementing new tools. But, regardless of whether it surfaces that way or via a more top down approach, these changes are happening and the reality is that because of that risk can really appear in many, many different forms throughout your organization and you need to have a more comprehensive way of tackling this.
Robert Cruz: I think that's a great way to sum it up. I see this is also just recognizing that the task of looking for or effectively identifying and mitigating risk really is not about looking at messages. It's really understanding conversations and the context of those conversations, and the fact that they are interactive and the tools now are allowing you to work and exchange information much differently than you used to. So making sure your processes, your technologies are enabling you to look at those interactive aspects. That's critical. But then secondly, is the fact that this is a very dynamic picture and just you look at the change demographically, this is going to continue to get even more and more complex. Each of these networks is distinct. Some of them are better than others to allow you to implement the controls, whether that's Slack, Teams, Cisco Webex Teams or other tools, they will all be different. And so these are all things that firms have to be thinking about as they adjust their processes and the technologies they use to identify and deal with information risk.
Brian Hill: Absolutely. Email is certainly not going away anytime soon, but we will see this ongoing shift to new tools, specifically organizations should make sure that they have appropriate tools for Teams and Slack given the massive growth that we're seeing in those applications in the market.
Robert Cruz: Awesome. Brian thank you very much for sharing your insights. Really appreciate it. And we've got a few questions to get to, but before we get to them I want to just provide a brief overview of how Smarsh can help in this area because the technologies we're providing are really well suited to address this variety of communications. So let me hit that real quickly and then we'll come back to some of the questions to wrap it up.
Robert Cruz: Just looking at the portfolio capabilities that we're bringing to the market. I think one of the biggest assets we offer is the fact that all of our intellectual property and sweet spot, the things that we do around dealing with how these communications can be captured. Looking at the heterogeneity of all these networks. This goes back to instant messaging from Yahoo and AOL. We've been in this space for quite a while, we know how these networks are different, why a chat is different from an email. So technology allows you to reliably capture all these communication sources in a way that's going to satisfy your compliance and your litigation obligations. This is what we've been doing, this is the nature of our business. So as collaboration continues to grow, it's now another network in our portfolio that we can address.
Robert Cruz: Within the archiving technology our professional and enterprise archives both have the understanding of what all of these communication sources are about. So we respect the native attributes, the fact that they are not all email. And so the ability for firms to be able to effective manage their discovery and their supervisory workloads is what that system is really designed to do, to allow you to plow through in a single pane of glass all of this volume and variety of communications data.
Robert Cruz: And then on the application side, we've built out the supervisory and discovery applications, but what we find is that we now have a tremendous asset under management which is this variety of communications and collaboration data that can feed other systems. That can talk to your legal review technologies or your business intelligence tools. Not just from a risk management or risk mitigation perspective, but I'm going to put it out on my customer and if I can see the way that I'm interacting with them I can use that intelligence to be more effective in the way that I'm providing my products and services. So the portfolio addresses all of those elements.
Robert Cruz: Now the context, we've been talking about this for a number of years and the idea that if you work with technology that's designed for email what happens is that all this interactive information gets lost. It gets converted into a series of messages, and the problem is that important information can get mishandled along the way. You could break the chain of custody because what if somebody changed content within a persistent chat? What if somebody inadvertently attached information that should be under nondisclosure? If you're just looking at messages you lose all that important metadata and information. What we're doing, the way the system is designed is to be able to play back all the things that took place. Here is what went on in a persistent chat on July 15th, 2019. And I can see how that changed from moment to moment, or from day to day. So you have the ability to keep all that information in its proper context.
Robert Cruz: The Capture for Slack basically is providing our ability to take from the enterprise grid all the communications information, all the information that's accessible to us via their API and ensure that we then can take this information, capture within the archive, help you to enforce policies, enable the disposition, make that information available for discovery and also do some important things like I want to be able to see where there might be IP or data loss that's potentially transpiring in the way the communications are happening. So we have the ability for firms to see some of these and implement some of these policy controls as part of our ability to capture and store the Slack communications.
Robert Cruz: On the Microsoft Teams area, this has been a part of our portfolio as it was previously Skype for Business as it was previously Link and OCS and MCS, so we know where these technologies, how they operate. We work very closely together with Microsoft to be able to capture this teams communication and to be able to implement policy controls within the system. Preserving all the rich, dynamic information that individuals are exchanging on Microsoft Teams. A couple of things that we've implemented very recently include execution of DOP controls through Teams.
Robert Cruz: Brian may have attached a message that should have been protected or that was something that pertains to our intellectual property. You can set policy filters for that from the recipient side, you could see there was an attempt to deliver that information but that delivery was blocked because it was a violation of a policy. And you also see the notification that's happening on the senders side that you can see that was interrupted prior to its delivery. So our ability to do this prior to this information arriving in the long term archive is critical, because you want to be able to spot these risks and act upon them sooner. So, very broad portfolio collaboration is very well suited to the way that we're capturing, storing and enforcing policies through this variety of networks.
Robert Cruz: So with that, let's turn to some of the questions that have come in over the course of the discussion. Davi, I see three of them here so maybe we just take this first one right off the top. How can you preserve a persistent chat that meets-
Davi Schmidt: Sure.
Robert Cruz: I'm sorry, go ahead.
Davi Schmidt: I was just going to read the question for you. How can a persistent chat meet 17A4 requirements?
Brian Hill: Yep. No that's a great question and we were at a compliance event yesterday and this actually came up quite a few times. Because the idea of 17A4 is that data is being stored immutably, in a warm repository, write only mechanism. You can't reuse or repurpose that particular storage location. This is difficult when you have a persistent chat. So this becomes an area where our ability to take snapshots of what's happening in a persistent chat over a time sequence can show you what items have been changed. And so for us it's the ability to present and play back this dynamic conversation just having different snapshots that can be stored and delivered as part of the supervisory review.
Brian Hill: Again, good example of where the dynamic nature of what we're doing is really helping firms to address the requirements and also stay in compliance with their SEC mandates.
Davi Schmidt: We have another question here. How should firms manage bots and voice assistance?
Brian Hill: That's a great one and I think it's one of the things that Microsoft Teams and Slack both enable is that there is a bot in some of these Teams rooms where the default may be on. And so from a compliance perspective if you have to be concerned about three people in a chat, well you should be concerned that there may be a fourth entity in this chat, which is the equivalent of an Alexa or a Siri, are recording this conversation. So, it just creates an additional consideration that firms need to be capturing that recorded version of this conversation as well that may be taking place via that bot. So there's a whole topical area here that's quite broad in terms of AI and other machine learning and other advanced analytics that get put into play here. But at least as far as the bot component or the recorded version of this conversation, it becomes another area where you want to make sure you have technology that allows you to capture that additional stream of communication that may be happening as part of a teams dialogue.
Davi Schmidt: One more question here. Is there a specific requirement to capture voice recording?
Robert Cruz: I'm looking at Brian because we're both, this is a pretty meaty topic as well. And for firms that are multi-nationals, if you look at MiFID II as one example, the language there is quite clear. You need to have a mechanism to be able to capture all of the communications that led up to a transaction. And we've seen companies deal with voice, in many cases because of customer service obligations, making sure that their call centers are operating appropriately, but I think more importantly it goes back to the conversation of governance. You want to make sure these voice recordings that people aren't doing things that are inappropriate, they may not be things that are violation of your supervisory requirements. So the regulations are not discriminating voice from email or from any other communication sources, if you believe that there may be risk that needs to be governed you need to have the ability to implement your policy controls through that network.
Brian Hill: Absolutely. And it's important to realize that voice should not be treated in a silo. Some organizations have tended to lean more that way, but again the voice needs to be captured and controlled just along with all these other types of communications and collaborations. It needs to be done holistically to achieve good governance and cut your risk.
Robert Cruz: Great point.
Davi Schmidt: Any final thoughts before I wrap everything up here?
Robert Cruz: Hopefully what we've left folks with here is just the fact that this is happening now. This is not something that we've been talking about for a long time as around the corner, the corner is here. And if you look at the adoption of Teams and Slack in particular, this is just a fundamental difference in the way that companies are defining their unit of work, and so hopefully what we conveyed here today is that companies should be thinking now about evolution of their policies, of their training programs as well as the technologies they have to identify and deal with risk. So hopefully that point has been something we conveyed here today.
Davi Schmidt: Great. Thank you Robert, thank you Brian for hosting this webinar. Thank you everyone for participating in it as well and asking all the questions. Please note that the webinar has been recorded and a link to the recording will be sent out via email. You're welcome to send any additional questions or comments to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. So thanks again and have a great rest of your day.