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Four Reasons to Incorporate Archiving into Your Communications Technology Strategies
Archiving technology has come a long way since its inception in the 1970s. In today’s multimodal, digital world, archiving communications is no longer just about storing and finding voice and phone calls; the practice has expanded to include email, chat, SMS, meetings and team collaboration sessions. It’s equally important to record and archive voice recordings, emails, and other forms of digital communication. More and more business-critical and sensitive information is shared using these communication channels, making it vital to safeguard and access them when needed. This requires a secure, searchable archive to help capture and retain the information, and then efficiently identify and retrieve relevant communications.
There are a variety of reasons why archiving voice and digital communications is important for businesses of all sizes, including:
- Compliance and internal governance: ensuring that organizations meet regulatory compliance issues for regulatory and audit needs
- eDiscovery: the electronic aspect of identifying, collecting and producing electronically stored information in response to a request for production in a lawsuit or investigation.
- Finding critical communications or contextual search when it’s needed
- Continuity and preservation: to avoid accidental or malicious deletion of communication information
Let's go into greater detail why each of these reasons is business-critical – and therefore something communication professionals should be keeping in mind when maintaining or expanding critical communication infrastructure.
Ensuring that digital communications are stored safely and can be retrieved in the event of data loss is particularly important for organizations that need to retain records for regulatory or legal purposes. Compliance remains the primary use case for archiving, as many industries and organizations are required by law to maintain records of their voice and electronic communications for a certain period of time. For example, in the United States, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) requires broker-dealers to retain electronic communications for six years. Similarly, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) mandates that investment advisers retain electronic communications for at least five years. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in hefty fines and legal penalties. In fact, in 2022, SEC penalties against organizations that failed to maintain and preserve work-related text messages on employees’ personal devices reached $1.2 billion!
With the right retention policies, organizations can ensure that archived communication information is deleted after a certain period to help manage their data storage while only retaining information that is necessary. Alternatively, these policies can ensure that information is retained for the required period and is not inadvertently deleted.
Digital communication archives can also serve as evidence in legal proceedings. In the event of a lawsuit or audit, an organization may be required to produce electronic communications as evidence. By law, the original content and metadata for electronically stored information is required, ensuring that the communications that may be used as evidence haven’t been altered or tampered with. The digital communications information needs to be collected, extracted, and indexed, and made accessible to reviewers when necessary. Having an organized and easily accessible archive can save time and money during the discovery process.
Finding Critical Communications or Contextual Search
With organizations increasingly relying on digital communication, the volume of data generated can be overwhelming, making it difficult, if not impossible, to find critical interaction information when it’s needed.
Archiving allows for communications to be organized and indexed, making it easier to search for specific information. Good archiving solutions can also help to provide context to a conversation, as users can view an entire conversation thread rather than just individual messages.
Continuity and Preservation
Archiving can also help if there’s accidental or malicious deletion of communication information. If an important digital communication such as a chat, SMS, or voicemail gets deleted - whether on purpose or accidentally - the archived version can still be accessed. Whether due to employee turnover or temporary leaves of absence, organizations can also preserve and share communications, ensuring continuity.
Archiving is also useful for historical or research purposes, providing insights into past communication patterns and decisions.
For all these reasons, organizations need solutions to capture, search, and preserve information when needed or necessary.
Archiving isn’t new, but has generally only been available through third-party solutions, and only for voice recordings or emails, ignoring today’s other digital communication channels. Compliance requirements don’t stop simply because someone communicated via SMS rather than email. In fact, as business-critical and sensitive information is increasingly shared using various digital communication channels, it’s becoming even more important to securely archive the information, while providing a safe and simple way to search and retrieve digital conversations when needed. Whether it’s to meet regulatory and compliance requirements, ensure security best practices to safeguard the information from deletion, or to easily access information to resolve disputes, it’s becoming more and more important to preserve digital communications with a modern archiving solution.
Archiving for UCaaS
Traditional archiving in the UCaaS space has typically been driven by third-party vendors providing compliance-focused archiving for customers in financial services and regulated industries. These are generally sophisticated and specialized solutions that are expensive and not appropriate for most organizations.
In addition, while third-party solutions may do the job, they are often not integrated with the UCaaS platform and require separate billing, support, provisioning, and management. More and more organizations are looking for complete, all-in-one UCaaS solutions rather than multiple point products. An integrated archiving solution that provides storage, compliance, retention, data residency, and search functionality can be a more cost-effective and practical solution – especially for small- and medium-sized businesses.
That’s why the cloud communications company Intermedia developed Unite Archiving, an add-on to its Unite UCaaS solution. Unite Archiving was designed to tightly integrate with Intermedia’s UCaaS solution, and to preserve chats, SMS, phone calls, voicemails, and more without requiring any user or administrative action. During a briefing with Intermedia about Unite Archiving, I got to see it in action. What impressed me the most were the search and retrieval capabilities. The demo showed how chat and SMS conversations can be archived, and then indexed and easily searchable based on text, chat names, participants, call duration, source, attachments, and other attributes.
With communications volume on different communication channels rapidly increasing, it’s hard (if not impossible) to recall conversations or to easily access files shared. Do you remember who sent you a specific file, and if it was sent in an email, during a video meeting, or in a chat session? Me neither. But you can ask Unite Archiving to retrieve all calls or chats, such as all interactions that involved John and mentioned Project Phoenix, and then drill down into the information needed without spending time searching various sources. Contextual search lets users not only capture and retain digital conversations, but search for specific phrases or interactions, making it easier to find specific information when needed and making workers more productive.
This type of solution can be used by sales teams, help desks, service and support groups, and others in various use cases. One use case Intermedia discussed – accessing and reviewing order confirmations - brought back my brokerage firm memory. Sales teams can also use Unite Archiving capabilities to determine productivity levels, analyze sales scripts execution, verify orders, review appointment bookings, and more.
Another interesting use case Intermedia mentioned is resolving “who said what” disputes, such as HR or customer disputes, by delving into and searching the archives to access the conversation or discussion.
Archiving now becomes even more useful beyond the usual compliance and eDiscovery use cases. Users can keep a record of communications sent and received, ensuring that they can safely store messages and associated documents without requiring users or administrators to save them.
The need for an effective archiving solution is growing as organizations increasingly rely on digital communications. UCaaS users should consider an archiving solution that works seamlessly with their UCaaS solution, avoiding the need for yet another costly point solution.