On-Demand Webinar

Infrastructure Considerations for Your “Next-Gen Electronic Communications Archive”


As the volume and variety of electronic communications that must be retained and managed for regulatory compliance and e-discovery continue to proliferate, enterprises need to make strategic decisions on how and where they deploy archiving solutions.

Whether it be supporting global expansion, the archive’s ability to work seamlessly with other enterprise applications or leveraging the archive for the use cases of tomorrow, the infrastructure decisions that IT leaders make today will enable organizations to future-proof their data platform.

Meanwhile, the consequences of maintaining the status quo for IT leaders may prove costly and limiting.

In this on demand webinar, guest Forrester Principal Analyst Cheryl McKinnon and the director of the Smarsh Information Governance Practice Robert Cruz unpacked the trends and surfaced considerations to help your organization make informed and strategic information archiving infrastructure decisions.

Transcription of Webinar Audio

Portland: ... join and we'll begin the webinar shortly.

Portland: Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's webinar, Infrastructure Considerations for Your Next Gen Electronic Communications Archive. Please be aware that all participants will be muted for the duration of the call. Please submit any questions you may have via the GoTo webinar messaging app and we will try and answer as many of them as possible. Joining us today, our presenters, Cheryl McKinnon and Robert Cruz. With that, I'll hand it over to you, Robert.

Robert Cruz: Thank you, and good afternoon everyone. We're going to talk about the next generation of archiving. Archiving has gone through quite a significant amount of change over the past several years. The advent of cloud, the adoption of AWS and Azure, the growth of communications and collaborative technologies that firms are adopting as well as a bunch of new data privacy regulations. All of these things are affecting the ways that companies need to think about the capture and storage of information for regulatory purposes. We're going to talk through some of the considerations that firms should be thinking about as they began to select their next generation of technology.

Robert Cruz: Before we start, let me just do the standard disclaimer. Smarsh is providing this material for informational purposes only. Smarsh does not provide legal advice or opinions. You must consult with your attorney regarding compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Robert Cruz: With that, let turn to the matter at hand. Just quick introductions, and then we're going to talk about some of the variables here, are in play, the volume and variety of information, the growing and more complex regulatory and privacy demands around the world. The need for interoperability. A lot of this is because of the enablement of technologies today leveraging cloud. Then we'll wrap it up with some key takeaways that firms should add to their due diligence as they look for the next generation of technology. First of all, by way of introduction, I'm very happy to have Cheryl McKinnon with us today from Forrester, expert in this area. Somebody that's been following the archiving market for a number of years. Cheryl, thank you very much for joining us today. Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself.

Cheryl McKinnon: Sure. Hi. Yes, I've been with forest research just about seven years and I've spent most of my working career in some form of collaboration, content management, records retention, archiving, both as an analyst working with vendors as well as an independent consultant and even working with some of the nonprofit associations in the information management space. Thanks again for letting me be a guest here.

Robert Cruz: Awesome. Thank you for joining. Just quickly for those that aren't as familiar with Smarsh, first of all, happy to have been recognized with within the Forrester wave as one of the market leaders. Great return on investment from our perspective and just making sure that you're seeing the things that we're doing and, and very happy to be acknowledged by Forrester. When you look at the company overall, all we do is information capture and archiving. It's the core of our business. We serve a number of regulated industries with particular emphasis. We're on financial service and public sector. We're recognized now by multiple analysts as a market leader, which is very important to us. We tend to focus on around use cases, including supervisory review and eDiscovery. Increasingly, we're seeing a very significant demand for intellectual data protection or data loss prevention.

Robert Cruz: We are a combined entity. The merger was with Actiance took place in the spring of 2018, so now bring in this breadth of capabilities to address the small and medium size portions of the market as well as the enterprise portion of the market, which we'll emphasize today in particular as it pertains to the international and multinational regulatory environments. This is where I want to start, and just, Cheryl, the way that we have seen and view the evolution in the market, with technologies initially being deployed on-premise to deal with storage management problems, to deal with the efficiency of exchange. A lot of these challenges have been addressed and companies have been able to embrace the cloud and move from first-generation vendor hosted archiving solutions, and now are beginning to see the value of moving toward an AWS or Azure, and even going beyond that into the ability to leverage multiple cloud multi-clouds.

Robert Cruz: It just seems like there's a significant amount of energy behind this. I'm interested to see what your view is in terms of where you see firms thinking about archiving, and the way that they're looking at the return on investment and the value they're seeking to gain.

Cheryl McKinnon: Yeah, for sure. If you want to just move ahead to the next slide. Watching this market over the last several years, I like to say, okay, we can now declare this generational war to be won. When I'm talking to enterprise customers through the advisories we do, the workshops, telephone calls, inquiry calls, the technical and the compliance driven buyers I'm talking to are very much so looking at modern flexible platforms that are cloud native, that are going to help them keep on with whatever digital transformation path they've decided to go on.

Cheryl McKinnon: The tipping point has happened to within the last few years. Forrester has a great data and analytics arm. We do some very large scale surveys every year. The data that we see reinforced by customer conversations is that message archiving content, collaborative archiving requirements has tipped over to cloud, in that 60% range and more having already adopted that. We've already made that tipping point into cloud architecture. It's not just, as you mentioned, that generation one could have a hosted or vendor managed service model, we are seeing more and more interest in the architectures that are multi-tenants, software as a service, the ability for the vendor to deliver a lot of value in terms of ongoing security patches, ongoing feature and innovation iteration.

Cheryl McKinnon: If you take a look at the graphic here, I think this whole path that we've seen evolve over the last several years, we've gone from this world of on-premises, taking that same code base and hosting, or having that managed service back, the vendor or one of their partners. But now, more and more we want those nimble platforms so that if a new communication tool comes into the market and we realize the way it's being used in our banking, insurance, whatever other vertical we're in, we want to be able to keep pace really quickly and make sure that we're not losing our pace of innovation in terms of meeting our customers where they want to communicate with us, but without losing any of those compliance and governance requirements that of course, we have.

Cheryl McKinnon: If we take a look at how this market is evolving, the next logical step is of course, more and more intelligence and analytics coming into the space.

Robert Cruz: Yeah, and I jumped ahead there, but I think you were starting to touch on the innovation aspect and the fact that it appears that companies are trying to do more than just manage a compliance obligation. That there's potentially a demand and interest in unleashing business value or tapping into new opportunities. Is that something that you're finding companies are concerned about now?

Cheryl McKinnon: I would say companies more on the leading edge are starting to think that way, yes. Meaning that, there's a lot of untapped value sitting in a lot of our communications, sitting in a lot of the content, the collaborative information that we are capturing, archiving, and now have the opportunity of doing a lot more analysis around it. Looking at better ways of serving our customers by the way that we communicate with them. This is a really untapped potential for a lot of organizations that are already making the investments in the archiving platforms.

Robert Cruz: Right. Why is cloud one? What are the reasons that this is providing a better approach or firms are finding that there's higher ROI opportunity amongst the cloud platforms?

Cheryl McKinnon: Yeah, I'm hearing a few different themes from the customers that we're talking to. Certainly we are seeing overall a pretty broad move to cloud for a lot of our employee productivity suites, whether we're using the Microsoft suite or the Google suites, we're seeing a lot of critical enterprise applications shifting to cloud. As organizations are also modernizing more of their in-house infrastructure, modernizing more of their compliance applications, it just makes sense to go to where the content is, and that means cloud very often is the path where ... the next generation archiving investment.

Cheryl McKinnon: We're also seeing some new types of fragmentation happening inside of enterprises. For example, business buyers, we know are given, if not more technology budget than they had a decade ago, they certainly have a larger voice at the table when those technology budgets are being spent. If we're seeing the shift to cloud versions of our customer relationship management systems, collaboration tools, chat messaging tools, because this is where the business leaders want to push us. We know that we need to be able to keep pace and not have that fragmentation. So we have 10 different places 10 cloud applications storing or hosting our information. We want to be able to consolidate that into a single set of places where we can go, especially if we do have a heavy burden for investigative searches, eDiscovery, freedom information, whatever it might be pertinent in your business.

Cheryl McKinnon: We also see that this whole fragmentation in terms of multiple cloud for business productivity tools, enterprise application tools, that makes it hard sometimes to have a consistent approach to governance, to capture, applying the right retention or security policies, making sure we're not disclosing anything that's confidential. We want to be able to have a more cohesive, consistent approach here. This whole faster pace of technology innovation, especially when it comes to communicating with our prospects, with our customers, we want to be able to have a platform that's going to move quickly with us, as again, we go to where our customer wants to be in that moment of need, when we need to communicate, collaborate, share information or even more importantly extract important information from them.

Robert Cruz: I want to come back to that point because that's something that we talk about quite often, which is this is not just an issue of the data volumes growing, it's really a change in the way that people want to interact. The slide that we use to describe this is this demographic chart from Microsoft, which I think is interesting because it shows number one, each generation has its own preferences in terms of the way that it wants to do business. Clearly, if you look at some of the emerging sources, it's really about driving the interactivity, it's driving the immediacy of the communication, engaging with me on my terms.

Robert Cruz: It's not just the younger employees, but it's also your clients. It's a function of a change in demographics, but to the point that you raise, companies want to engage on their terms, through the networks that they choose to interoperate with. It really becomes a question of revenue impact. Can I retain these customers through support of these new networks? When we see this complexity arise because of variety, how do you see that? How do you see companies trying to unlock these other areas of value becoming more important now?

Cheryl McKinnon: Yeah, absolutely. One of the large scale surveys that we do here at Forrester is to tap into what are those top priorities, basing both our technology decision makers as well as our business decision makers. We go out and we survey multiple thousands of organizations globally to really understand what's shaping their buying decisions and where are they focusing their efforts over the next year. When we think about the technology decision makers, the top priorities that they have looking into 2020 for example, is they want to increase their own pace of innovation. So they want to be able to stay in lock step with the business or even be one step ahead knowing that we're working in increasingly competitive environments and technology can be a differentiator in terms of how we use the tools that we're investing in.

Cheryl McKinnon: Pace of innovation, certainly is a top priority, followed pretty closely by the need to continue to invest in skills. We want to continue to invest in the technology that are gonna help our organizations be more customer centric and be more competitive in global markets. Technology decision makers also want to make sure that they are delivering their projects more quickly. This is again, I think where cloud is really key, the ability to kind of get up and running, start solving those problems in matter of hours or days, and not days or months or even years as we've seen in decades past. We're also seeing technology decision makers want to align their performance metrics to direct business outcomes.

Cheryl McKinnon: How do they understand how their business stakeholders, the internal customers or survey, how are they being measured? Is it based on revenue? Is it based on customer retention? What can the technology teams do to better align to those bigger picture corporate goals? Then rounding out the top five there is being able to shift their resources that are really going to move the needle on a better customer experience. That's been a big body of research for Forrester for a number of years, is putting that customer focus front and center. We might not think that regulatory requirements, governance, compliance, all these rules we need to follow, we don't initially think that they're related to customer experience, but I would argue that they are there's a direct connection there.

Cheryl McKinnon: Because the way that we handle our customer confidential data, the way we communicate with them, we want to make sure that we got all the care around them, to meet whatever regulatory requirement, but again, raising the bar to a better customer experience is really the key there.

Robert Cruz: Yeah, that's interesting. I mean, when you look at innovation, you're helping the organization to achieve an outcome based upon a user experience that is reflecting the way that newer employees or younger demographics amongst your clients are wanting to interact. Very supportive of the message we talked about previously. Let's go further and kind of look at some of the things that, how are companies now thinking more top line? Not just as elimination of risk or cost, but potentially adding to revenue. How is this dynamic changing?

Cheryl McKinnon: Yeah. We just saw the top five priorities for technology decision makers, and a lot of those priorities were related to getting better in line with what the business goals and outcomes are. Those top goals and outcomes, probably not a shocker. Number one is to grow revenue, right? Expand the footprint, move into new markets, get a better customer retention, followed very closely by improving customer experience. Again, I think this goes to the whole pace of being creative and innovative in terms of how we engage with customers, what kind of devices do we want to support them on? What kind of communication channels we want to open to them, make it as easy as possible for them to do business with us.

Cheryl McKinnon: How do we make sure that we've got the right controls and governance wrappers around those diverse channels. Third, 36% want to be able to improve the products and services that they offer. I think this means getting insights out of how we're serving customers today. When I hear the term insights, I think data, and when I think data, I think about all of the untapped opportunities we have in our archives, potentially to really understand what's the right tone that successful with customers, what are the right practices? There's a lot we can learn from here. Cost reduction, not a shocker. Again, in the top five, we're always looking for opportunities of taking out, especially older legacy applications, they served a useful purpose five, 10 years ago, but now there's a lot of opportunity to move to a lot more cost effective technology models.

Cheryl McKinnon: Again, the ability to improve their ability to innovate. Again, very closely aligned with some of the technology priorities. There is, how do we keep nimble, how do we keep observing the markets that we're in and tune in tweaks so that we can be responsive to those changing conditions.

Robert Cruz: A much more aggressive set or diverse set of objectives, clearly beyond just the notion of being able to manage storage costs within an email archive. You see the change in dynamics, the more aggressive objectives, but let's talk about the context or the backdrop of what's happening around the world. One of the things, clearly that's affecting all of our customers, or at least our target market in particular, is the fact that now they are dealing with a very complex patchwork privacy regulations they have to deal with, in addition to the industry regulations that they're faced with within Canada, within the EU, and further complicated by the situation in the US, where you have the California, the CCPA, and potentially other privacy regulations that may be implemented at state level.

Robert Cruz: Again, a very complex patchwork of regulations that firms are having to wrestle with. When you look at this, how are you seeing companies dealing with the evolution of privacy and some of the other regulatory requirements they have to deal with around the world? How are you tracking this?

Cheryl McKinnon: Yeah, no, great question. I work a lot with my colleagues and our security risk, team and they do a fantastic privacy tracking report that they update, typically about once a year, that whole privacy heat map. For organizations that are trying to understand, okay, what's going to affect how I collect my data, how I store it, who I share it with, ultimately how I might have to dispose of it within rules and policies, we update this privacy heat map. Global organizations or organizations operating in multiple jurisdictions can do a little bit of a deeper drill down and really understand what those changing policies or laws, what might be impacting them. I think this is also where as we think about the technology investments that we make to help us maintain and monitor this at scale, looking at tools that have flexibility.

Cheryl McKinnon: For example, can I automate the detection of various national identifiers? Make sure that we're protecting information that might contain that social security number, social insurance numbers, whatever that might be. Looking at technology to help us deal with a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of detecting that data upon ingestion or leaving the organization, putting up red flags if something inappropriate is going in or out. I think there's a lot of opportunity here for automation and intelligent services to start helping us meet some of these privacy and data protection obligations.

Robert Cruz: You mentioned one of the interesting dynamics here, which is there's a lot more stakeholders in this discussion. You talked about InfoSec, and clearly the privacy ramifications, but also just the insider inappropriate behaviors that may happen. Just the need to be able to ensure that you have the controls in place. How were the additional stakeholders affecting the decision making processes when you look at selection of a new technology? How do those folks identify and arrive at a solution that's going to satisfy everyone that's in the equation?

Cheryl McKinnon: Yeah, no, I think this is really important. If we look at GDPR as an example, identifying someone who's gonna be that data protection officer type of role and we're going to see probably more and more of the emerging legislation recommends similar things, but adding that new external stakeholder at the table, when a lot of organizations are building out their information governance, their dream team, their stakeholder team, of course they're bringing to the table their technology leadership, business leadership, records management, legal, etc.

Cheryl McKinnon: But I think what some of this data protection and privacy legislation is doing is forcing us to take this outside in perspective and start thinking about, okay, what about our customers? What about our partners? What about these other external stakeholders that are entrusting some of their data to us? How do we make sure that we're caring for it, we're protecting it and securely disposing of it if that's what the appropriate next step must be? It's compelling organization to just think about their stakeholders and recognize that outside in perspective.

Robert Cruz: Yeah, I'm glad you mentioned the service provider angle on this, because it's easy to focus primarily on your internal systems and which you can see and touch and feel, but given the advent and adoption and growth of cloud, you also need to be thinking of your capabilities in your service provider network if they're equipped to deal with this. When you look at how companies enable readiness or preparedness for more complexity and privacy, what are they invested in? Where are they spending money to try to drive up that level of readiness?

Cheryl McKinnon: Yeah, very interesting. This is actually some very new data. For those of you familiar with the ARMA, one of the leading records management, information management, professional associations globally. We actually just wrapped up a joint survey with them. We've been doing this for a number of years now, and we've been asking a few more questions related to privacy as this certainly has risen to the board level radar. We asked the question just earlier this fall, what changes to your information management program have you had to make to better address some of the privacy and data protection requirements?

Cheryl McKinnon: First off, they're making new technology investments. The rise of these legal requirements are certainly driving investment in newer modern technologies that are more equipped to deal with these requirements. Second of all, they had to invest in some new skills, so retraining existing employees, continuing education, workshops, awareness building certification. Very interesting that this means skills development and new technology investments for many firms.

Robert Cruz: Interesting that folks are recognizing the cross functional breath and people process technology across all three axes. Going further here, just on that educational element, this is new for a lot of people and I think some of the challenges that you lay out here highlight some of the things you believe are the biggest obstacles for firms to overcome in terms of making sure that their employees understand what they need to do?

Cheryl McKinnon: Yeah. We also asked the question, again, this is an information management audience, what has been the biggest challenge in adapting to some of these new privacy and data protection requirements? Interesting is that employee education and on safe data handling practices came up as the number one area of challenge. I think this really speaks to wherever there's an opportunity to focus on automation, we should probably take that opportunity because getting that consistent employee, handling practices, understanding how to tag something that might be sensitive, it's probably better to look at ways that we can automate this versus relying on some very busy information workers that might not be doing things consistently.

Cheryl McKinnon: The second was getting executive attention for this requirement. I think now that we're a year and a half into GDPR, we're starting to see some of those first decisions being made by regulators, some of the fines that are potentially coming down the pipe. This will probably rise in terms of executive attention, but I think this also speaks to the opportunity to look for automation opportunities when we can.

Robert Cruz: Right. I think the tying together of the automation with the data handling practices, I think from GDPR's first set of major fines, it appears the biggest obstacle for firms to deal with is the right of access requests. When there is an inquiry, can you respond within the timeframe that's allotted? CCPA is the same thing, 45 day response. If people aren't trained, and if you don't have automation, it's very difficult to be able to account for all the data that is required to address that inquiry. Well actually, let's go to the next subjects here, which is, a part of the expectation that we're hearing is, "Now that my data is in the cloud and now that I have the ability to leverage this information, I'd really like it to not be a silo. I'd like it to interoperate and work with other applications."

Robert Cruz: The way that we've seen this is that number one, in supporting all the different communication types that we do, whether that's social media or email or text messaging or collaboration, being able to aggregate that information, delivered to its archive is a starting point, but then firms want to be able to enrich that, to interact with that across other applications, whether they be eDiscovery related or content surveillance related in the arena of risk. But recognizing this is also an important set of data that can feed my downstream applications, my workplace, my SAP applications, my Tableaus, other systems that are looking for the value of that information to be able to have a more richer view of what your client experience is.

Robert Cruz: I want to talk to this, Cheryl, just in terms of when you think about a next generation cloud, we've talked about the sophistication to meet the privacy mandates, the ability to deal with the variety and volume of information that. Tell me what you see as some of the key characteristics here that firms should be thinking about in the next generation platform.

Cheryl McKinnon: Yeah, and some of these key characteristics, earlier this year as I mentioned you know, we did publish the Forrester wave. These were some of the core capabilities that we really thought were important in terms of some of the vendors that are delivering on some of this pace of innovation. The first is the ability to keep current and up-to-date on whatever kind of connectors or integrations that are needed. Again, in the spirit of meeting your customer where they want to communicate, what email platforms are you connecting with? Chat systems, collaboration sites, other forms of communication. I think this is where there's an opportunity to keep that spirit of innovation moving because it's much easier to turn on a connector as you adopt a new particular communication or collaboration channel versus having to implement something on-premises, where there might be more heavy lifting in terms of integrating or upgrading.

Cheryl McKinnon: I think this certainly keeps that pace of innovation and customer service spirit moving much more quickly. Second key characteristic, this is I think one of the most exciting areas that we're seeing in the broader archiving content, records retention market is this rise of a lot of these intelligent analytic services coming into the mix. Whether it's faster pace of investigative search and query for things like eDiscovery or freedom of information, audits, whatever it might be, but even allowing the technology to start sorting through grouping, data visualization, so I can consume content at scale, just by sifting through some charts or visual representations.

Cheryl McKinnon: I think there's a lot of really interesting and exciting work happening here. Especially in highly regulated organizations, banking, trading, investment companies, the ability to, not only supervise incoming and outgoing email, if we've been doing for a number of years, but really start to understand how communication may traverse multiple channels, something that might start in an email conversation, maybe shifts to chat. How can we use technology to better piece together that puzzle that might be unfolding? Looking at different ways of sampling the information so we're getting a bigger picture view of the kind of communication that's going in and outside of the organization. I think some really interesting opportunity is here.

Cheryl McKinnon: On the governance and security services, that's really key, especially in the world of cloud, right? It's not just how are we securing and the information that's being stored inside our archive, but how is the vendor securing their application, the data center? Or working with the best of the breed public cloud providers to offer that best possible data security experience. I think the kinds of questions I get today about how do I assess the security of a potential cloud provider today, are dramatically more sophisticated than they were six, seven years ago when we started this shift. We're making a lot of progress in terms of asking the right questions around, well, how does this particular platform handle my sensitive data?

Cheryl McKinnon: Can it make recommendations on what needs to be secured or encrypted? How do we make sure that we've got the right kind of controls around the application, so only particular authorized users are in certain segments of the data. I think there's been a lot of innovation happening here as well.

Robert Cruz: Interesting.

Cheryl McKinnon: I think the final core characteristic, and I alluded to it earlier is that, one of the unsung benefits of using software as a service, and this comes out of our software survey data that we do every year, not specific to archive alone, but any SaaS application is, a couple of years into this adoption of cloud, we start to see benefits. I know that we are always kept up to date on the current iteration of the platform, the connectors that we're using to ingest or collect information. Our security patches are always kept up-to-date. We're never going to get stuck on a five-year-old version of an on-premises system anymore and push it to its limits until it breaks. This is really emerging as one of the top benefits of SaaS, is just that flexibility, ability to stay current and the fact that we can get up and running very quickly in many cases.

Robert Cruz: Interesting. I agree. I think people tend to take this for granted or we lose sight of the fact that it is one of the fundamental benefits. If you look at the evolution of standards, you have a much more effective means of doing this as opposed to relying upon technology that may have been originally designed for on-premise use, and essentially you're just adding redundancy in order to address some of that. The standard seems to be a contributor to making this much easier to do. In fact, just looking at the agility and the updating and the speed of deployment, these benefits, are you seeing companies really recognizing and appreciating these more than they did in the past? Are these becoming more surfaced within organizations as far as really helping to justify the ROI of this investment?

Cheryl McKinnon: Yeah. The data you're seeing here is actually from our software survey I mentioned a moment ago. Thinking back over the year over year results here, and oh, if I wind back the clock a couple of years, we typically would see benefits such as speed of implementation and deployment was I think number one a couple of years ago. Lower overall costs tend to show up in the top four or five. But this whole improve business agility, the ability to move quickly, scale up, scale down, broaden the number of connectors, perhaps we need as we bring on new communication channels, better compliance, of course is there, but then just that automated delivery of upgrades. Taking a lot of the burden off of our in-house technology and compliance teams. So speed, agility and the ability to always be kept current I think are key here.

Robert Cruz: Interesting. In particular, just the word innovation, again, appearing in here very close to the top of the list. It's staying on top of the changes that are affecting the way that your clients want to interact. You had mentioned one of the upcoming reports. Can you tell us a little bit more about some of the work that's going to be highlighted here?

Cheryl McKinnon: Yeah, so every fall we release a series of what we call our prediction reports. Our cloud team, just a couple of weeks ago, actually a week ago, launched our predictions 2020 for cloud computing. I thought one that was really interesting here was that, we've certainly seen this evolution of software as a service, point solution providers come into the market over the last decade plus, but a lot of them have started by building out their own data centers and having to maintain an awful lot of infrastructure. We're now seeing the shift from a lot of these in-house developed data centers, now shifting to basically ride the coattails of many of the major public cloud providers. This I think provides some really interesting advantages because number one, there's already a lot of security assessment that's gone on in terms of the data center.

Cheryl McKinnon: The ability to scale globally much more quickly. Rather than having to invest in a whole new data center to move into a new region, work with the best of cloud providers to move into that region very quickly. I think it allows that pace of innovation to move up the stack, focus on what does that particular archiving platform or software as a service provider good at, what's the application secret sauce they want to continue to invest in and not have to rebuild reinvent the wheel essentially from a data center infrastructure perspective. I think there's a lot of opportunity here and we're starting to see that trend emerge.

Robert Cruz: Interesting. This is available to Forrester subscribers today?

Cheryl McKinnon: That is, yes. It came out just about a week ago.

Robert Cruz: Terrific. That really lines up well with the sorts of things we've been hearing from our clients in terms of the desire to leverage the public cloud in order to realize both the availability benefits as well as the ability to scale their systems. You mentioned that very important geographic flexibility. I need to deal with data in Hong Kong or Singapore and it has to be retained in that region. It seems like you now have the ability to be agile, to go where your business is going. Where do you go from here? There's always gonna be the next content type, there's always going to be the next set of privacy mandates. How do you future proof your investments that you're making today?

Cheryl McKinnon: Sure, yeah. When I'm talking to large organizations, especially those unregulated businesses, I really encourage them to think about again, put the customer at the center of whatever critical process are trying to modernize or reinvent and really think about the flow of information that's meaningful to that client. Today, it's email messaging content. It might shift into other apps and other types of collaborative environments tomorrow. You had some breakdown there in terms of some of the generational preferences that we might be seeing. Well, as they start target new segments of the consumer world to become customers, they may have to change from their practices.

Cheryl McKinnon: Thinking about the flow of information both in and outside of the organization, with the customer at the center, that's going to set you up for success, recognizing you're not locking into just three ways of communicating today. You've got to be nimble and flexible and expect change to happen over the coming months and years. I think the other key recommendation is to really understand what is that role of ... I've been using the term the extended enterprise, and that really means, all those entities that have some stake in your business, because they are customers or prospects, or because they're trusted suppliers, they're business partners.

Cheryl McKinnon: Maybe they are your external law firm. You frequently need to collaborate with them and they may need access to some of the information that you've got stored and retained. Regulators, perhaps it's more and more business practices change into digital first. There may be opportunities to let some of those trusted stakeholders in to observe or analyze the data that you've got on hold. Finally, create a cloud strategy that's going to balance the demands of your business users, especially those that are customer facing with of course, those required compliance and security requirements. Finding that sweet spot is really key, and it shouldn't be as difficult as perhaps it was a decade ago. The ability for many of the cloud providers to react quickly to changing conditions or suddenly a surge of interest in a particular new chat or a messaging application, being able to keep pace with that external collaboration innovation I think is going to be characteristic of where large regulated industries need to go.

Cheryl McKinnon: Look at a strategy and pick those vendors that are going going to allow you to be as innovative as you can or need to be.

Robert Cruz: Interesting. A question came in here that fits right into this topic, which is, what's next? We've gone through from enterprise content management to email, now to chat and social and mobile. Is there another wave of technology on the horizon that you're hearing about that companies are beginning to look for solutions around?

Cheryl McKinnon: Well, that's really interesting. I think I would keep an eye on different forms of content and communication. Everything from very componentize content. Some of the innovation we're seeing from Microsoft and some of the other cloud content collaboration providers is to work in a lot more granular forms of content. Can this figure or this table stand alone as an object to be reused in many other places? In email or PowerPoint deck, is the data updates, can it be pushed out to where it's being used or consumed? That is something that's very quickly coming into our world of content creation and collaboration. I'd certainly keep an eye on some of the innovation there. Then again, just watching some of the alternative ways of communication, we're seeing much more interest in various bots and virtual assistants. Again, that's could be potentially incoming customer communication. Always kind of watching where the conversations are happening and keeping pace with that.

Robert Cruz: Exactly. Just to add to your first point, I think there's also some recent announcements from Microsoft about interoperability between team Cisco and Zoom, where you now have the ability to launch a meeting or will have the ability of from one platform to another. Back to the point of, you want these things to be able to function very seamlessly, that we're definitely can anticipate clients wanting to take advantage of that. One of the thing, just mentioned is the fact that on the mobile side, that we see almost everything today already has a messaging app. So, we'd expect that there's even more modalities attached to each application. It's not just being able to text, but it's being able to share and exchange documents and be able to interact through other means beyond just basic texts.

Robert Cruz: It's a never ending cycle. It's what's happened? What's next? All you can really plan for is the fact there's always going to be the next one on the horizon.

Cheryl McKinnon: Well, that's a great segue into my next comment, which is to plan for that continuous improvement. we perhaps have historically thought about things like compliance and information governance programs as being big and heavy. We need to rethink that attitude and assume that these programs are always going to have to be evergreen, always shifting and moving as the type of information that we need to protect and preserve begins to change and the stakeholders that we need to involve begin to change. We're never done. We've always got to keep moving, keep improving. The sustainability of a great governance program overall, with the technology to support it, also means understanding what are the business teams doing? What can we expect next year in terms of what new customer program are we launching?

Cheryl McKinnon: What new customer onboarding app are we launching? Always be there and be ready to capture the sensitive data and critical data that we need to make sure we're meeting our compliance obligations as well as those customer service obligations. We saw a couple of the global slides earlier, always keep an eye on the regulatory landscape. We know that across many jurisdictions, we are expecting more data protection privacy laws. Other legislation that we need to watch is companion pieces in terms of how long do we need to retain things? What's the appropriate way of disposing of things that are okay to get rid of based on some of these subject requests, for example.

Cheryl McKinnon: Use data, I think the investments that we're seeing in the archiving market right now, understanding how information is being used, what kinds of searches are running, this just helps us improve our own programs, so using some of those analytics those advanced capabilities, not just to analyze the data, but even to analyze our own usage of the data so that we can continue to learn, improve, and become more effective at meeting our compliance obligations as well as using that data to make better decisions.

Robert Cruz: Great tips. Again, I think just reflecting the fact that this area of technology has matured very nicely from just being able to deal with email management into enable innovation, enabling you to stay in front of your customer. Cheryl, really appreciate you taking the time to join us, and if you could hang on for a few minutes here to make sure we catch any questions on the backend. I just wanted to kind of quickly summarize on the Smarsh side, how we can help in some of these areas. But again, thanks very much for sharing your insights.

Robert Cruz: In terms of Smarsh's those capabilities here, and you're looking at all of these dynamics that are happening, what we're seeing is there's really three distinct needs that we're filling. Number one, it's just making sure that you can stay on top of the communication and collaboration tools that your employees and your customers are demanding. The important thing there in the way that we built out our connected capture suite of capabilities is that, we are about protecting the integrity and the native properties of each of those communication networks. Collaboration functions much differently than text messaging, different than email. Our goal is to use native methods of capture, accessing an API from the vendor directly when it's available and making sure that we've captured that full conversational context.

Robert Cruz: Once we've done that, then we're able to deliver that information to our archiving technology. The different versions here would be the enterprise version for the multinationals, our professional cloud for our mid-sized firms or federal cloud or government cloud, for the firms that are having to deal with a fed ramp and related regulatory mandates on the government side. The important point is, for each of these technologies, the ability to preserve the context of the communications, treating each of the communication sources as they appear natively so that you maintain and retain that context. Then feeding this information to our connected apps. Being able to address supervisory review if you're regulated by FINRA, Iraq, the FCA, or MiFID II, dealing with the ongoing set of litigation challenges as well as internal investigation, and as we've talked about very importantly, the ability to feed external systems, external applications, third party tools where we provide the data, enabling them to do the work they need to do.

Robert Cruz: Now, the journey that we've launched on, or taken upon is in the area of really leveraging the open cloud standards. What we would refer to here as cloud native in the way that we've designed the system. Being cloud native means we can really leverage the capabilities that AWS and Azure and the other public cloud platforms provide. Namely, number one is providing automation in the way that we build our application so that we can keep the applications up-to-date as Cheryl mentioned earlier. Continuous delivery is being able to ensure that you have the availability within the system, that you can use deployment zones to make sure that you have data that's always accessible. Also, you can adopt or adapt to changes that might be happening in that particular regulatory environment in terms of implementing new policy controls or supporting a new content source.

Robert Cruz: We have the ability to deliver this in microservices. The idea there would be, instead of leveraging a monolithic system, if we need to scale resources to provide more compute resources, we can do that without impacting the import or the extraction of information. We can do that at the micro level to ensure that you don't have a single point of failure or an area that could become a performance bottleneck. Delivering that and managing that within specific containers to ensure that you can deal with the data privacy mandates, you can ensure that information is being retained without commingling, you can manage all that information very seamlessly and across many customers. Just the final point on the global flexibility. The idea, in this particular case, of deploying on AWS. In that particular environment alone, we have the ability to deploy in 66 availability zones.

Robert Cruz: That means that if you have GDPR to address in Europe, if you've got data locality requirements in Hong Kong and Singapore and Brazil, we can leverage the existing infrastructure that each of these regions provides. We can do that very effectively to be able to add a new business unit in a remote region or ensure that you can address a new privacy or regulatory mandate in those particular markets. So something that you get from the leverage of this public cloud infrastructure that you cannot do through the development or through the ongoing leverage of your own data center infrastructure.

Robert Cruz: With that, I think we have a couple of minutes for questions. Let me throw it back to the folks and [Portland 00:49:23] to see if we've got anything on the line that we can address.

Portland: Yeah, a couple did end up popping in. The first one is how is Office 365 taking advantage of these advances?

Robert Cruz: Great question. Cheryl, you want to take a first shot at that?

Cheryl McKinnon: Yeah. A couple of interesting things here. Again, we're still seeing more and more organizations still in progress of moving to Office 365. We're seeing, especially like larger regulated industries, they're looking at, how do I actually think about archiving all of these new capabilities coming from my cloud productivity stack, not just email now, but we're moving into things like teams and One Drive and so on. That's certainly is spurring a lot of fresh new conversations about what do I need to modernize my approach archiving as well? I think as more and more, again, going back to the use of public cloud for data residency, data locality, I think we're seeing more and more organizations coming on board as Microsoft addresses a lot of those requirements as well.

Cheryl McKinnon: That's certainly is being a big factor in terms archive modernization is just this whole shift of content collaboration, messaging, email platforms to cloud as well.

Robert Cruz: Yeah, and I would add to that, I think the announcements that we heard at Ignite, at least seem positive in terms of encouraging the interoperability across other platforms. That's been one of the challenges is 365 works great with Microsoft content, but if you look at a multinational firm that may have 60 or 70 different communication sources, including Slack and mobile content and legacy information, firms are heterogeneous, and so there are needs to continue to be able to support that non-Microsoft content as a first class citizen as well. Just the question that we get a lot, this is one where we like to direct our prospects back to you, Cheryl, when they asked us the question, is it good enough? Is Office 365 good enough to address the regulatory, any need discovery demands that they face?

Robert Cruz: It's a very good question. The discussion we often see is, is a company will go through a lot of trials and struggle to get through the compliance and legal sign offs. It's because they need the sophistication of controls that perhaps aren't there natively. We still see the heavily regulated and the highly litigious, looking for the addition of the third party capabilities.

Cheryl McKinnon: Agreed. Yeah. That's a really common conversation is, what I have in my subscription, is it going to fulfill my requirements or do I need to look at using some enhanced capabilities? It's certainly a question every organization needs to ask, but we do find that large regulated industries that have heavy eDiscovery workloads still tend to look at purpose-built third party tools for that.

Robert Cruz: Great.

Portland: Then we did end up having one more come in. In the United States, do you expect to see countrywide privacy legislation anytime soon?

Robert Cruz: Cheryl, can you speak to that from Canada?

Cheryl McKinnon: Yeah. Well, we actually do have a national law in Canada. That's a really tough one. That's a lot of political will to make that happen, but I think seeing some flagship States with clear regulations, if there's a way to at least look at what are some of the standards find common ground across different jurisdictions, at least that's where organizations can look at using technology for some of that heavy lifting, especially if we are going to see a bit of a patchwork for the time being. I guess that's a wait and see question.

Robert Cruz: Yeah, I would probably describe it the same. In that, ultimately, I think there's going to be a pretty heavy pressure from business to not have to deal with N number of different state level data privacy laws. I think the force against that is likely to be fairly strong, whether there's an appetite for the federal government to act on that is to be seen. But I thought there was something that was very significant happen yesterday, where again, Microsoft said that the infrastructure and the standards and the practices they have in place to protect California citizens data under CCPA, they would be extending to all of their customers, so great move.

Robert Cruz: You've implemented the controls, you also take that level of sophistication and apply it elsewhere as opposed to having to manage multiple standards, maybe an area where Microsoft can can lead some of the other vendors in the way that they prioritize data privacy. Well, if that's the last of the questions, I thank you again, Cheryl for joining us.

Cheryl McKinnon: My pleasure.

Robert Cruz: I appreciate you taking your time, and thanks for everyone joining today. From that, let me hand it back to Portland.

Portland: Definitely. So thank you again everyone for participating in our webinars today. Please note that the webinar has been recorded and a link to the recording will be sent out by email. If you did ask a question and we didn't get to it, we will have some followup with you after the webinar to make sure those questions get answered. You're always welcome to send any questions to us at any time at advantageatsmarsh.com. Thanks again, and we hope you have a great rest of your day.


Robert Cruz

Senior Director of Information Governance, Smarsh
Robert Cruz 800x800

Robert Cruz

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.

Cheryl McKinnon

Principal Analyst, Forrester

Cheryl McKinnon

Principal Analyst, Forrester

Cheryl McKinnon is a principal analyst serving enterprise architecture professionals; she helps them support their firm's need for content and collaboration technology capabilities in the age of the customer. Cheryl delivers research and advisory services in areas including enterprise content management (ECM), content archiving, enterprise file sync and share, document-centric collaboration, life-cycle management, information governance, and file analytics.