Compliance is full of layers. Exploring and dealing with one layer often reveals another underneath. And the deeper you get, the harder it can be to understand the whole.
This is because regulations are rooted in laws which, by their nature, are always subject to an element of interpretation and subjectivity. Well-meaning administrators and auditors tasked with hammering out the details of implementation often create more confusion. Ask the same question to ten regulators, and you may get many varied answers.
Enforcement is also subjective. At the beginning of each year, regulators announce their enforcement priorities: social media, anti-money laundering, suitability, etc. The guidance is helpful but temporary. Firms have to scramble to respond to one issue, then prepare to switch to something else entirely twelve months later.
We know that measures like archiving are essential, even if their use isn’t specifically spelled out. That’s why archiving is frequently referred to as the 11th commandment (“Thou shalt archive”). But what about other data related requirements? Companies need to set clear rules and policies for data use, even when they lack clear guidance from regulators.
What data should be kept private and should it be stored in perpetuity? Where should backups be stored? How do companies keep data safe yet accessible? These are just a few of the difficult questions that must be answered whether or not a particular regulation explicitly addresses them. Otherwise, compliance will always be a struggle to manage.
Building Everything From Your Archive
Companies can’t wait for regulators. Instead, they should be proactive when it comes to compliance. Even though archiving is widely recognized as a foundation of compliance efforts, its impact is bigger than most realize.
Archiving can be a terrific tool for disaster recovery — a problem that creates regulatory issues all its own. Recovering information is as easy as accessing your archive. With strong discovery tools in place, restoring lost information can be an almost effortless task. This is just one example of how archiving helps manage and minimize a variety of potential risks at once.
Archiving can also be extremely useful in protecting against human error. Even when deleting emails is prohibited by company policy, many employees still do it from time to time, often accidentally. Archiving ensures these mistakes don’t lead to fines or other forms of regulatory action. Auditors and regulators don’t have to be concerned when emails are missing from the inbox as long as they also exist in the archive.
Mining the Value of Information
Recovering from data loss is not the only advantage of maintaining a next generation archive. Artificial intelligence applied to vast data sets (like archives) can be used to proactively uncover errors and inconsistencies. For instance, if there are mistakes on an expense report, AI can find them so that they can be corrected. While it would be impractical and impossible for humans to spot all these issues, it’s intuitive for AI.
Archives also hide a wealth of potential new business. Records of all previous client interactions provide a chance to analyze the data to learn when your outreach might yield new opportunities. These records and digital touchpoints also contain valuable insights that can be leveraged to improve performance and determine organizational best practices.
Taking Advantage of Your Archive
Operating without a next generation archive is a huge gamble. From possible compliance violations and legal exposure to lost emails and conversations, the consequences are daunting. Even if you already have a solution in place, Zix recommends you periodically review it and explore potential alternatives. Once you’ve selected and implemented a platform, you can take these steps to get the most out of it:
- Engage with the data: Archives shouldn’t collect dust. Instead of seeing archives as data repositories, think of them as informational resources. Archives contain valuable insights that are unique to your organization. Also, by virtue of their scope, they give information important context that can otherwise be hard to capture.
- Ask urgent questions: Archives can help answer almost any question, so what information are you missing today that you wish was available? Instead of making a vague plan to leverage your archive, start with concrete questions. It’s amazing once you discover just how much in-depth insight archives can provide.
- Archive everything: Don’t stop with just email. New technology makes it possible to include all types of business communications in your archive. This includes a variety of instant message tools and even social media channels. As the variety of communication media expands, make sure you have a platform that can keep pace.
- Empower employees: Archives are valuable to everyone, not just executives, compliance managers, or IT pros. Allowing more teams, individuals and departments to explore your archive extends the benefits as broadly as possible.
There is an old saying: “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” As regulations and the regulators who enforce them continue to change all around you, your archive can be like a guiding eye. Use the steps outlined above to ensure you’re taking full advantage of the latest advances in archiving.