Four Business Benefits of Archiving Electronic Communications

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It’s no secret that email and social media archiving can be used to alleviate the compliance headache of meeting regulatory, privacy and e-discovery requirements across the enterprise. However, the real business value that archiving potentially provides remains largely undiscovered.

For the sixth consecutive year, the Smarsh Electronic Communications Compliance Survey illustrates the key trends and concerns facing compliance around the retention and oversight of electronic communications. While many of the concerns highlighted by respondents remain stable year-to-year, such as growing regulatory scrutiny and adapting to new communications channels, the responses also show supervision practices are not sufficiently addressing the compliance implications of these ongoing trends. Policy, enforcement and retention gaps remain high, leaving firms vulnerable to undetected fraud, errors, and regulatory enforcement penalties.

According to this year’s survey, as firms aim to demonstrate their “culture of compliance,” the role of electronic communication supervision is growing beyond the “retain and respond” checkbox. Compliance teams are taking a seat at the table to help manage overall corporate risk alongside other departments including IT, marketing and HR. With the mandate expanding and the stakes getting higher, resources are not keeping up, putting additional strain on the compliance function.

More than 87 percent of respondents expect the resources (time and/or money) dedicated to electronic message compliance will remain the same or increase only slightly in the next 12 months. Less than 1-in-10 expect to receive a significant resource increase. Unsurprisingly, this concerns compliance professionals. More than one-fourth of respondents (28 percent) cited insufficient budgets as a top concern this year, up from 22 percent last year. Likewise, 34 percent of respondents cited insufficient human resources as a top concern, up from 30 percent last year.

Compliance professionals look to technology to help them address the challenges of the growing compliance perimeter. From efficiency and effectiveness improvements to policy and lexicon management, they recognize that many of their existing processes, especially manual ones, cannot scale for the growing volume of messages or adapt to the unique needs of each new communications channel.

As social and digital channels and content types become more sophisticated and widely adopted, it is apparent they can also be used to enhance productivity and create opportunity. Comprehensive, automated archiving solutions that capture, supervise and retain electronic communications in a search-ready state, can also offer firms considerable benefits beyond compliance.

There are four key benefits of archiving that can add significant business advantage to the enterprise. They include the following:

  1. Understanding the Impact of Communications
    Having a clear picture of what firms are doing well can reinforce strengths and successes. To discover new synergies and insights, businesses need to be able to “listen as an organization.” All firms, for example, should be able to analyze and track how quickly and effectively their sales and services teams reply to customer communications and what language is most effective.
  2. Managing Risk
    The holistic oversight enabled by comprehensive archiving solutions can reduce the risk of “dark corners” in firms. In other words, those environments where remote teams, third party suppliers, or unmonitored social media accounts could wreak havoc with corporate reputation, business outcomes, or service delivery.

    For example, an effective archiving solution with policy-driven supervision functionality can identify rogue employees, dissatisfied customers, and potentially negative incidents before irreversible damage occurs. Both customer and employee mentions of competitor brand names, products, and services can be tagged and analyzed for any concerning trends, ultimately enhancing competitive intelligence efforts.

  3. Quantifying and Analyzing Unstructured Data
    Many archiving services can track the basic metrics of communications efforts. Nowadays it is fairly straightforward to compile likes, shares, follows, and mentions on social media platforms. But most social media activity produces unstructured data and communication (text, pictures, photos, videos) that won’t fit neatly into a relational database. This data is much more powerful and meaningful when retained in its native format and proper context enabling rich and granular search later on. Automating the collection and indexing of this data means businesses can measure things like product and service quality, or the quality of leads and relationships created by social media efforts.
  4. Future Proofing
    By casting a wide enough net and storing the captured data in a secure, reliable and search-ready fashion, firms can keep their proverbial finger on the pulse of customer sentiment, market trends, and emerging challenges. They can also document successes and build on them in timely fashion.

    By actively seeking to understand the nuances of the market through the lens of communications, businesses will be able to respond much quicker to unexpected developments. Not only does this allow the collection and scrutiny of data to solve today’s challenges, it also enables advisers to future-proof their business.

Comprehensive, automated archiving is a powerful strategic tool. Businesses are best placed to use it to drive business growth and gain advantage over competitors who don’t have the tools to mine and leverage their data gold dwelling within unstructured communications data.

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, please check out the recent Osterman Research report Next-Generation Archiving: Extracting Intelligence from your Electronic Archives to learn how to get more from your message archives.

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About Author

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

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