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By Mike Pagani, Senior Director of Product Marketing Smarsh

Archiving solutions have become indispensable for financial firms, and not only to maintain a compliance program for electronic communications. In 2016, we believe, smart companies will pro-actively seek intelligent archiving systems to better understand and manage their businesses.

In recent years, the industry focus has broadened from just archiving emails to managing all types of digital content including social media, websites, blogs, instant messaging and mobile messaging. Such diverse complexity has increased the burden for compliance officers. Compliance efforts are also affecting wider domains including legal, IT, marketing and C-level stakeholders.

There are several key trends affecting the ‘compliance perimeter,’ (the boundary surrounding all the files and content that must be archived and searchable) continues to evolve as new forms of communication are adopted by financial services firms.

Here’s a brief overview of the major compliance issues for 2016.

Widespread Adoption of Cloud Computing and File Sharing

Long-held concerns about security protections in the cloud have diminished in the past few years, as more companies have adopted and Microsoft Office 365. Also, most of the major data breaches at retail, financial and government institutions have not occurred in public clouds such as Amazon Web Services.

This growing acceptance of the cloud means more data resides beyond corporate data centres every day, adding new external rings to the compliance perimeter.

Another piece of this puzzle involves increased adoption of file-sharing services such as Citrix ShareFile, and These have become popular due to the convenience of collaborating on shared files through simple web links, rather than sending large email attachments that clog up network bandwidth.

Modern archiving platforms must now account for the fact that such shared online files can be modified throughout the day by various users, thereby altering the content. By ingesting the source document when it originally gets posted, and archiving the content at the same moment, archiving platforms can ensure that the original content is properly stored and secured.

The Advent of Bring Your Own ‘Persona’

The explosion of social media and Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) to work has permanently blurred the line between personal technology and business technology in the office. We refer to this trend as Bring Your Own Persona (BYOP), which simply means using personal technologies and social media profiles/accounts for business uses.

Social media is absolutely essential for business success today, so companies can no longer realistically prevent employee use. Therefore, it’s important to manage content by bringing social media posts containing business communications within the compliance perimeter.

In other words, it’s not the device that matters for compliance purposes – it’s the content. Any impactful comments that employees make about their companies through personal Twitter handles or personal phone texts should be archived. By capturing social posts, companies can monitor conversations for comments or content that may present risk to the business and create problems. In this way, a comprehensive archiving platform can serve as a kind of supervisory control panel to help protect the corporate reputation. Any such structure must however,  capture social media feeds in their native formats, so content can be reviewed in the context of the social platform and the origin can be determined.

The Added Ripple of Video and Audio Files

Like social media, video and audio files are becoming more prominent, including the rise of surveillance cameras, police-mounted body cameras, and corporate YouTube videos. Companies and public agencies that lack policies to supervise audio-visual content may find themselves vulnerable during litigation or public records requests.

Current archiving technologies have advanced enough to enable intelligent searches of video and audio files, at least for specific keywords and phrases. This technology will become more prevalent in the coming years to pull meaningful content from videos, voice messages and other recordings.

Putting It All Together with Intelligent Archiving

Digital archiving is a vastly different discipline compared to standard data backups for disaster recovery. In fact, comprehensive archiving will actually become a powerful strategic tool to help drive business growth.

With comprehensive archiving, organizations will be able to extract valuable business intelligence to gain a competitive advantage over companies that lack a complete solution. Company communications can be analyzed for what is being said to clients and partners, or how managers communicate with their teams.

For instance, email tracking will reveal how quickly sales and service teams are responding to customer email inquiries. Or social media accounts could be mined to identify positive and negative sentiments that are conveyed through tweets and Facebook posts.

In this way, comprehensive archiving becomes not just a format for e-discovery or preventing compliance violations. It will be used to automate policies and create guidelines to understand what’s really going on throughout an organization.

We believe 2016 will herald a transition, where email archiving shifts from being a purely defensive business requirement. Today, comprehensive archiving platforms can capture the full range of digital communications. Soon, they will enable compliance teams and other business departments to be much more proactive about analyzing company trends, understanding the impact of communications, and managing various types of risk.

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