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Actiance Brings Governance to Social, Skype4B

As anyone on No Jitter knows, people don't communicate strictly over traditional channels like voice and email anymore. Communication as a whole is getting more complex, options for collaboration are exploding, and social channels are becoming increasingly important for the enterprise, too. But the multichannel trend puts some companies in a tight spot.

Organizations in heavily regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare must follow unique rules around monitoring and archiving -- and these regulations extend to all modes of communication, including social media.

Actiance, a compliance software vendor, is trying to help regulated enterprises solve this emerging problem. I sat down with Trevor Daughney, vice president of marketing at Actiance, at last week's Microsoft Ignite conference to learn about how the company helps heavily regulated businesses utilize non-traditional communication channels and discuss its news around Skype for Business.

With its Vantage platform, Actiance allows companies to monitor, archive and control content on these growing communication channels, while ensuring they are able to meet compliance and eDiscovery requirements. In the company's own words, "We enable your organization to use the unified communication, enterprise social software, instant messaging, social networking, and custom-built enterprise apps it needs with the regulatory, legal and corporate compliance it requires."

With Vantage, companies can set controls and enforce granular policies companywide or by individual user or group. They can outright block instant messages and file transfers that include certain keywords or phrases, or set alerts that trigger content review prior to sending. For example, a company can create a canned lexicon so that if an employee types something along the lines of "I guarantee..." or attaches a contract containing confidential and personal data for file transfer, the platform raises a red flag and blocks the content from being sent.

As I mentioned, organizations in heavily regulated industries have additional barriers to utilizing certain communications platforms and social media. This often leads to the outright corporate ban of the use of these channels as a way of avoiding risk. With a tool like Vantage, regulated organizations can "unleash social business," as Actiance's tagline states, and make use of communication channels they may have previously shunned.

One example of how Actiance is helping companies mitigate risk is evident in its work with the Florida Bar Association, as discussed in a Forbes piece last summer. In the article, contributor Rawn Shah, director and social business architect at Rising Edge, does a pretty good job explaining the challenges that social media presents to businesses that need to control and archive content:

"First, the information is rapid and voluminous, so you need a rapid real-time archival system. Then, while the information tends to be short, there is other metadata such as the time it occurred, to whom it is visible, the people mentioned, and any attached data (e.g. video, images, etc.) Finally, in some cases, you can edit and modify the earlier posts on the social environment. This then alters either the original content or metadata."

For the Florida Bar Association, the dynamic quality of the information makes social media a challenge when it comes to discovering and retrieving content -- something that is particularly important in the legal field. The Florida Bar had already been leveraging Actiance Vantage for managing compliance for its internal collaboration tool, IBM Connections, and had been using Actiance Socialite for compliance management on public social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. By adding into the mix Alcatraz -- Actiance's context-aware, cloud-based archive for email and other real-time communication channels -- the Florida Bar was able to more quickly perform eDiscovery across all its data. Specifically, the Florida Bar was able to reduce the time to search its records from days and weeks, down to minutes and hours, Shah reported.

At Ignite, Actiance announced support for Skype for Business will be forthcoming later this month, with support for Yammer following this summer. Actiance currently supports Office 365 applications, including Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint, so with this announcement Actiance is building on existing compliance support for Microsoft content.

Support for Skype for Business and Yammer means that businesses can monitor, control and archive all conversations that take place in these tools, including instant messaging, persistent chats, Web conferences, and voice calls. A company can customize solutions according to what works well for their specific business, determining what kind of content needs to be retained and setting up policies so that the most relevant content is captured, on premises or in the cloud.

What things ultimately come down to is that "email isn't good enough" anymore, Daughney said.

By adding support for these Microsoft tools, Actiance is further enabling businesses to leverage powerful collaboration tools without increased fear of not meeting compliance. Actiance has promised big news to come in June, so the company may be worth keeping your eye on moving forward.

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