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Connecting the Dots: Gathering Communications Data Wherever It Resides

Abstract

In a bygone era, if a company wanted to capture and analyze its employees’ electronic communications, it only needed to focus its attention on email. Today, email is no longer the only means of communication. Given the explosion in the tools and technology designed to facilitate internal communications, if a firm is to maintain regulatory compliance, respond to lawsuits, and prevent misconduct, they must possess the means to aggregate electronic communications from a growing list of platforms.

If a business finds itself unable to develop a single view of its electronic communications, it runs the risk of being unable to identify activity related to misconduct. Furthermore, if asked to satisfy a regulatory enquiry, or a discovery request as part of a lawsuit, a firm may end up out of compliance, or unable to defend itself in a court of law. 

Technology is the source of this problem, but it can also provide a solution by connecting disparate data in a single solution. Compliance professionals also benefit as the technology helps them to gather, then ascertain the intent behind an insider’s actions and communications, which can support compliance and the prevention of misconduct.

Introduction

To meet the demands of today’s marketplace, companies continue to adopt new technology to facilitate communication and collaboration with an increasingly distributed workforce, that is now even more remote as a result of efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. 

While businesses continue to pursue new ways for insiders to communicate and collaborate, employees also find the need to communicate with customers via multiple technology channels, including social media. As companies embrace new forms of technology, they face a challenge to aggregate and analyze the vast amount of spoken and written communications housed within these platforms.

All the while, the threat of employee misconduct remains. As the FICC Markets Standards Board: The Patterns and Categories of Misconduct report noted, malpractice behaviors associated with misconduct continually adapt to new technologies and markets, making the need to capture and analyze all forms of communications even more pressing.

The Collapse of the Traditional IT Perimeter

There’s an added complication that comes from recent developments in how companies structure their IT environments. Historically, most of the electronic data owned and created by companies used to exist within the confines of their IT environment. Today, as the number and type of technology platforms available to support the world of work continues to grow, employee communications often reside in numerous locations, many of them beyond the traditional IT perimeter. As a result, much of the technology companies embed within their operations is outside the direction control of their company’s IT department.

Without access to employee communications, wherever they reside, monitoring interactions with customers, and satisfying regulatory requirements related to insiders’ communications becomes a challenge. 

There’s an additional problem that results when communications data is out of a firm’s line of sight, and this challenge is directly related to a firm’s ability to prevent insider misconduct.

Enhancing the “Perception of Detection”

While every firm should have visibility into the data created via communication and collaboration technology for numerous reasons, when it comes to preventing and detecting misconduct, such access is critical.

If an insider perceives that a company can monitor their actions closely, they will be less likely to step over the line and engage in misconduct. This is called the “perception of detection”. Conversely, if a firm makes no effort to police insider communications, they’ll send the wrong message regarding their interest and ability to prevent and detect wrongdoing.

Therefore, every step a firm takes towards improving its ability to gather and analyze employee communications, also enhances the perception of detection, which helps discourage misconduct. 

Expanding the Data Perimeter 

While the case for monitoring internal communication is compelling, as companies add new technology to their environment, there’s a risk that they’ll underestimate the importance of capturing the messages exchanged on every platform. 

In particular, some firms may resist the need to integrate new data sources due to concerns about the cost and effort to do so. Thankfully, selecting the right technology can help a firm capture communications data that resides within the traditional perimeter as well as data housed on third-party platforms, efficiently and without burdening the firm with excessive costs to do so. 

In fact, as a firm adds new forms of communication offered by third parties, the time, effort, and expense of integrating the new source is often minimal. Consequently, investing in technology to aggregate data from disparate sources allows companies to embrace new means of communication between employees and well as customers, without accepting excessive risk.

Ultimately, having gathered disparate communications data, a firm can then use an intent-based approach to analyze employee communications to establish context for the words written or spoken. This can prove highly instrumental in achieving regulatory compliance, dealing with legal matters, and mitigating the potential for misconduct.

Written By
Robert Patrick

Senior Director of Product Management