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Opening the Door to Business Continuity (and Success)

Opening the Door to Business Continuity (and Success)

/ Current Issue, Strategy, Technology
Opening the Door to Business Continuity (and Success)

Secure archiving both protects and enables the ready retrieval of critical data.

Businesses have turned to hosted communication solutions as they offer a convenient means to work flexibly from any location and at any time.

Critically, these solutions ensure uninterrupted business activities. And in situations where internet connectivity may be disrupted or physical access to an office building is hindered due to unforeseen events or emergencies.

Hosted communications are configured with high availability and redundancy. Both within a local data center as well as geographically via secondary data centers, which support complete failover capability.

But what about more mundane topics of business continuity? Such as when key employees leave an organization. Or are on a long-term leave of absence.

It is one thing to have hardened servers to have the data and reliable communications networks to deliver it. But what about the data itself?

...use of communications channels...raises concerns about compliance and business continuity.

The information that employees share across the organization and acquire from clients and partners during regular contact is often an invaluable resource. However, preserving and analyzing such data can be time-consuming and costly. The timely retrieval of pertinent details from these interactions is not always straightforward.

The need for an easily accessible archive of all digital channels used in conversations becomes even more apparent when disputes, legal issues, or compliance requirements arise.

A previous discussion may hold vital information that companies must access within a limited timeframe. Additionally, the use of communications channels, such as chat, SMS, and voice calls raises concerns about compliance and business continuity.

The State of the World of Archiving

Enter archiving, a dynamic, critical, actionable, and near-real-time means of resolving issues.

Archiving solutions automatically capture and retain business-related interactions while providing a sophisticated means of searching and filtering communications. They are also easily accessible by key staff.

Archiving might seem like just another technology that organizations may need to worry about in the future. However, capabilities that a company may delay implementing become increasingly relevant when they affect regular operations.

Leveraging the Power of Communications

Today, crucial deals and essential interactions no longer require in-person discussions and physical signatures. Digital correspondence permits companies, clients, and partners to handle interactions quickly from any location, even with mobile devices.

However, communicating across multiple channels causes the amount of information a business must capture to increase exponentially.

The World Economic Forum published an article that surmises people will generate 175 trillion gigabytes of data annually by 2025. This figure is a fivefold increase over 2018. Much of that material will come from business communications.

The Growing Value of Archiving

To retain and retrieve vital communications, organizations must turn to secure archiving.

The archiving trend is fully on the upswing. Companies that are not yet paying attention to this solution should take notice.

Consider the following data points from research conducted by Frost & Sullivan and Gartner.

  • 82% of IT decision-makers have either implemented or reviewed audio recording capabilities to assure compliance and network security. Such recordings become a pressing matter for businesses that employ remote workers to interact with customers.
  • By 2025, 35% of companies with over 100 employees or generating over $25 million in annual revenues will be archiving meeting and conversational workspace chat solutions. This number represents more than seven times the number of companies that did so in 2021.
  • In the same time span as above, 45% of regulated enterprise companies will supervise video and audio content to meet compliance requirements, a fourfold increase. This data is consistent with the reports of a 44% rise in the use of corporate collaborative tools in recent years.

Organizations will find it impractical and undesirable to limit how employees communicate as they adopt unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) solutions that permit secure conversations. The addition of archiving is necessary for ease of access to the conversations that occur using these platforms.

Why Organizations Should Consider Archiving

Continuity

An organization can experience changes in staff at any given moment, whether team members depart temporarily or permanently. Relying on employees to upload information means there is the possibility of forgetting a communication stream, or accidental or intentional deletions.

An archiving solution that automatically captures and retains business-related interactions means the information is safe from tampering or deletion. As team transitions occur, supervisors can easily access necessary details and provide them to incoming employees.

Compliance

Certain industries, notably but not limited to financial services, healthcare, and legal have specific compliance requirements related to data storage and retention. Challenges can also occur when enforcing an organization’s own internal governance policy.

Communications data...will be analyzed by future AI and analytics platforms...

Organizations operating within any of these sectors that are impacted by these regulations should regularly review whether their current archiving methods support their compliance programs.

Legal Protection

The possibility of litigation is a reality of doing business. Secure communications archiving can be a critical asset to a defense team.

By following tightly controlled protocols, SMS, voice calls, chats, collaboration meetings, contact center interactions, and email may become reliable evidence. An archiving solution makes such information easier and less costly to retrieve.

Future-Proofing

With the increasing prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics platforms, it is crucial to emphasize the significance of archiving data for potential future business purposes.

AI and analytics engines heavily rely on data, and forward-thinking organizations should recognize the need to start capturing and storing that data now for future utilization.

Communications data with customers, partners, and employees will be analyzed by future AI and analytics platforms to provide insights that will improve employee and customer experience. The future financial benefits and impact for organizations will be tremendous.

Typical Use Cases

Productivity

Archiving assists with productivity in line-of-business functions such as sales, customer oversight, and workforce change management, to name a few. Let’s look at them in greater detail.

Sales and Customer Oversight

Managers and supervisors can gain an enhanced view of their teams with archiving. This insight leads to better training and improved results from employees.

For example, a salesperson may have low productivity despite making the requisite number of voice calls. Their supervisor could ensure the rep is using the sales script by referencing the call archives. Reviewing the record of conversations may highlight key areas where the rep deviates or misses opportunities.

Another potential situation involves verifying orders. Errors create time-consuming and costly returns and shipping charges. Worse yet are the upset customers who begin to view a company as incompetent or uncaring. A review of the archives can isolate the root of the issue and problematic patterns.

Customer disputes are another area that companies and their clients want to resolve as soon as possible. Say a manager receives a complaint about a customer-facing employee. The employee may tell a different story than the customer.

Is this a cantankerous client or is the rep in need of additional training? A review of communications, including collaboration meetings over the previous few months, can reveal the details of the interaction. The information can then help the manager determine whether further training is required for the rep. Or, if they had responded appropriately, what other actions may be needed to manage the customer.

Workforce Change Management

Managing workforce changes is another area where archiving can help enhance productivity. When an employee changes roles, leaves the organization, or steps out temporarily for reasons such as health and family concerns, the productivity loss can be substantial. The ability to retrieve conversations with clients allows leadership to bring new hires or backfills up to speed quickly.

For example, picture a customer success agent who has helped various clients with particularly complex issues. A challenge for the business arises when this agent goes on family leave and a customer that the agent assisted calls in for help, following up on a previous problem.

The customer success lead now handling the case does not have to guess or sort through reams of disorganized information to understand the customer journey. Archiving makes finding the right conversations with keyword searches simple.

Companies must also contend with the loss of customers that occurs when sales personnel move on to other roles. Robust data collection and storage means a new rep can pick up where their predecessor left off and maintain the relationship. Such continuity creates a favorable view of the organization as having a vested interest in the client’s success.

Key Considerations

Below are some key considerations when discussing data archiving.

Data Integrity

Archived data must be stored in a way that preserves its integrity and authenticity over time.

Data Retention

Archived data is typically retained for extended periods of time, based on legal, regulatory, or business requirements. In many cases, the retention period is dictated by regulatory requirements, such as seven years for FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) or 10 years for Medicare.

Accessibility

Archived data should be accessible and retrievable when needed, either for review or for legal or regulatory purposes.

Security

Security is extremely important in data archiving. The archived data may contain sensitive or confidential information that must be protected from unauthorized access, modification, tampering, or theft.

Compliance and Data Residency

As noted earlier, depending on the industry, strict regulatory compliance requirements may be in place related to the retention and storage of data. These regulations may also specify that the data be stored in a way that allows easy access and retrieval in a timely manner. This may include requiring WORM (Write Once, Read Many) tamper-proof media storage that complies with SEC Rule 17a-4.

Another issue related to compliance is where data physically resides. Authorities vary in their restrictions, and most countries do not want the personal information of their citizens stored in a nation with less stringent privacy laws or under an administration that might try to seize those communications.

In Conclusion

Organizations must be able to find information when they need it, regardless of where it sits. As voice, SMS, and chat usage continues growing for businesses, accessing details from these communications is increasingly important.

That’s the value of archiving with the use of solutions that enable the retrieval of past communications quickly and easily. They can assist with improving decision-making, providing continuity with customers/partners and client interactions and resolving disputes. Thereby minimizing concerns about compliance and assisting with litigation.

Archiving, then, is about more than recordkeeping and compliance for industries that deal primarily with sensitive data. The winners in today’s marketplace, whether regulated or not, are the organizations that can quickly leverage the information they have when it’s needed.

Al Kelley

Al Kelley

Al Kelley serves as Vice President of Channel and UNIVERGE BLUE Cloud Services Sales for NEC Corporation of America, a wholly owned subsidiary of global technology leader NEC Corporation, where he has spent over 20 years improving the way people work and communicate through the integration of technology solutions.

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