By Michael Osterman, Principal Analyst, Osterman Research
With the global pivot from office-based work to work-from-home models, the question of how to secure, preserve, and analyze corporate communication data has become more critical than ever. Michael Osterman of Osterman Research, a leading analyst firm in the messaging and collaboration space, discusses fast-breaking changes in business risk exposure with Micro Focus ARM Product Marketing Manager Achmad Chadran in a recent webinar, Archiving & Information Governance in 2021 – What Lies Ahead?
Proper information governance is essential if an organization hopes to manage its data in a way that can satisfy all its regulatory, legal, and business demands. A robust archiving solution is a key element in ensuring that an information governance program will work as intended, whether on-premises or in the cloud.
WHY INFORMATION GOVERNANCE?
Information is the lifeblood of virtually any organization, even for organizations that are not ostensibly in the information business. As a result, proper governance of that information is important if the information is to be useful and its integrity maintained.
Driving the need for information governance are several factors that impact organizations to varying degrees depending on the industry in which they are involved, their regulatory environment, the degree to which the organization is involved in litigation, and the volume of information they produce and must retain.
Regarding the last point, the growing volume of information produced and managed by most organizations is growing dramatically. In addition to more traditional information types like emails or files, organizations must increasingly manage new types of data, such as content from collaboration tools that might include video, voice, and chats; social media posts; voicemails; sensor data; video feeds; and the like. In the absence of a robust and well-planned information governance strategy, managing this growing volume of information well will be next to impossible.
It is also important to note that a rapidly growing number of organizations now operate in a strict regulatory environment. While many still consider that only specific industries – such as financial services, healthcare, energy, or life sciences – have rigorous regulatory obligations to manage data well, newer privacy regulations, such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), are imposing strict regulatory obligations on organizations of all types to retain and ensure rapid access to personal data. Every organization is now a regulated one.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
The right approach to information governance offers important benefits in several key areas, such as:
- Reducing the costs of regulatory compliance by making information readily, easily, and quickly available when it’s needed.
- Ensuring that litigation holds can be executed quickly and reliably so that essential information that might be needed during a lawsuit is not inadvertently deleted.
- Minimizing the costs and risks of eDiscovery so that the right, and right amount of, information can be produced during litigation – not so much that attorney and paralegal costs are driven up, and not so little so that production of information is considered inadequate.
- Improving employee productivity by enabling users to access relevant spreadsheets, presentations, documents, and emails with a minimum amount of time and effort.
The return-on-investment associated with good information governance can be enormous for most organizations and it should be considered a high priority for decision-makers that are crafting their organization’s information management strategy.
WHERE DOES ARCHIVING FIT IN?
There are many reasons that organizations across all industries must retain various types of records that are relevant to their business. Given that most of these records are electronic, such as emails, files, and other data types as noted above, an electronic archiving capability is essential.
An archiving system, as distinguished from traditional backup, captures all relevant information from data sources like email systems or social media, stores this content in an archival storage system so that it (normally) cannot be modified or deleted, and provides a robust search capability that will allow the efficient production of relevant content when needed.
Archiving has traditionally been defensive in nature: organizations retain information that they believe will be needed in the future (or that they are required to retain by statute), they store it for long periods, and they access it when needed, such as for legal action or a regulatory audit. In short, as a defensive capability, archiving will ensure that information is retained if someone comes looking for it.
However, archiving can be much more than a defensive tool. The ability to conduct proactive, in-depth investigations can be enabled by the use of a proper archiving solution. Because thorough investigations require gaining a good understanding of what took place and when, having access to an archive of all relevant information provides clear evidence of what happens within an organization and across its supply chain. For example, an archiving solution used as a proactive tool can help an organization detect policy violations among its employees and contractors, help its marketing and sales teams to understand customer behavior more thoroughly, enable a compliance department to detect insider threats, help HR to monitor employee communications for offensive, or help senior managers to understand employee sentiment.
In short, information governance is a necessary capability for any organization, and proper archiving is an essential element that will enable it. While an archiving capability can serve an organization well in its traditional role as an information repository that can be accessed for regulatory, legal, or other needs, using it as a source of insight and intelligence about an organization makes it even more valuable.