A new market category for communications compliance
On July 14, Gartner introduced a new market segment called Digital Communications Governance in two of their Hype Cycles, in both Storage and Data Protection and Data Security. Gartner clients use Hype Cycles to evaluate the maturity, adoption, and social application of specific technologies. Gartner listed Theta Lake as a sample vendor in this category.
Digital Communications Governance, what is it?
Gartner defines Digital Communications Governance (DCG) as “solutions (that) provide methods to monitor and enforce corporate governance and regulatory compliance across a growing number of communications tools available to employees". In addition, “DCG solutions enable consistent policy management, enforcement and reporting capabilities such as data retention, surveillance, supervision, behavioral analytics, auditing, and e-discovery”. In their research Gartner cites the need for support for video, text, voice and mobile communications as part of the inclusion criteria in the category.
As a 2X former Gartner analyst who covered the predecessor market of DCG, known as Enterprise Information Archiving (EIA) which was more focused on email and instant messaging archiving, it's nice to see the evolution and recognition by Gartner of the importance of modern communications such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Cisco WebEx, RingCentral and others and the need for compliance and security in those areas that Theta Lake provides. While email is still important and part of the digital communications, these modern tools and the mesh of how those tools work together across multiple modalities (voice, text and video) and have mobile implications (SMS, phone, WhatsApp) have eclipsed stand-alone email usage according to our survey research. Unlike email, they are not static, but dynamic, intertwined and embedded with rich functionality that needs to be fully enabled for firms to maximize their productivity and ROI in their UC investments.
Theta Lake’s view
The creation of this category by Gartner is validation of the work Theta Lake embarked upon in 2017, when we purpose built our platform to deliver compliance and security for modern, unified communication and collaboration, unlike legacy vendors coming from an email centric or voice recording centric heritage which can lead to deficiencies in providing the best customer experience and results across unified voice, visual, video, chat, and file modalities with meshed tools. We are indisputably a pioneer in this market with the patents, partners, investors, customers, and awards to prove it. We would encourage Gartner clients to utilize the recommendations set forth in these research pieces, and recognize the obstacles that have been outlined by the lead analyst, Michael Hoeck, when they work with and engage with vendors in this space (including us!). We are confident that our flexibility in delivering a modular, use case driven approach and we are proven in hundreds of deployments, the largest scaling over hundreds of thousands of users for Digital Communications Governance that puts the buyer in charge is the best approach for the era of SaaS based modern unified communications.
What makes an ideal DCG solution?
In the Hype Cycles, Gartner outlines some of the aforementioned capabilities that define a provider in DCG such as support across multiple modalities, mobile communications and use cases like surveillance and ediscovery. What other considerations might potential DCG buyers make?
Coverage of modalities: Buyers should beware of solutions when they claim support for a platform or modality. Do they capture it in its native context and fidelity so that downstream users like compliance and legal can quickly ascertain what's happening in a conversation to identify risk. Do they capture the essential ingredients happening in a communication stream, like emojis, reactions, GIFs, memes and file attachments? Can they apply the same risk detections across voice, video and textual communications? Support across modalities is not a check box item or “yes, we can build it” endeavor. It requires a solution like Theta Lake, that was architected and designed to accommodate the rise of modern communications, and their continued evolution. A good example of this is our first in the industry support for whiteboards like Mural. Regulators have been concerned about whiteboard usage which in turn, causes some firms to be reluctant in adopting them. By providing compliance and security, firms can embrace a new form of collaboration, unleashing productivity while compliance teams can feel confident in sharing how they work with regulators and auditors. There are numerous other examples of where coverage is needed in today's workplace including work management systems like Asana, Monday.com and others, Enterprise Social like Microsoft Viva Engage and Salesforce Chatter and many others.
Repeatability: Digital Communication Governance can be a significant endeavor, encompassing large variations in data types, use cases, volumes of data and multiple stakeholders. In addition, modern communications are constantly evolving and developing new modes of communication. Prospective solutions should deliver a fast time to value- measured in hours and days for deployment, not weeks, months or even quarters as seen in the past with Enterprise Information Archiving. Vendor replies should not be “we can build it”. Your unified communications environment is SaaS and largely turnkey. Why should an additive compliance component be any different? Beware of services based approaches.
Seamless integration with leading UC Platforms and continuous development: Platform vendors like Zoom or Microsoft Teams may have 60-90 product updates per quarter, with new feature updates which impact how users communicate. At Theta Lake, we partner closely with the leading unified communications providers (many of whom are investors in us) so there is never a gap in coverage in our support for them and a risk of non compliance for our clients supported by a constant drumbeat cadence of new product releases, every 6-8 weeks. In addition, we provide Safety COVER® and Meetings Risk Manager, solutions that help organizations govern the usage of and how virtual meeting platforms are deployed. This ensures that UC administrators have visibility into how access controls, screen sharing and user behavior occurs in virtual meeting platforms.
Infrastructure flexibility: Recordkeeping of data whether it's email or more modern communications like voice, video, whiteboards will always be important. With the longevity and subsequent investment in enterprise archiving over the last 10-15 years, some organizations may be loath to consider ripping and replacing TBs or even PBs of data from those legacy investments. It's this quandary which has kept many in a state of inertia when considering change, especially as the adoption of dynamic, modern communications have accelerated since 2020 and require immediate attention when it comes to compliance and security. Organizations shouldn’t have to feel compelled or “stuck” with their archive choice to provide the capture of unified communications like Zoom, Teams etc. An ideal solution should be able to support your existing archiving investment, while providing their own as well, in addition to supporting flexible choices like BYOS (Bring Your Own Storage) and BYOK (Bring Your Own Key). Theta Lake supports all of these options, giving organizations the flexibility needed to deliver immediate high impact, mitigation of risk and fast return on investment.
End to end coverage with a modular approach: The use cases Gartner describes are numerous and applicable to potentially hundreds of applications across multiple modalities. From capture, to proactive risk detection and archiving with support for ediscovery across unified communications and mobile messaging platforms, DCG is a significant endeavor. Very few if any of the vendors listed alongside Theta Lake in the Hype Cycles can. Theta Lake can support any use case and modality (and more) than what is listed by Gartner's initial research. Unlike the traditional EIA approach, we offer a modular approach and as mentioned above support your existing archive and storage choices. Success comes by use case and need.
Caveat emptor? Not at Theta Lake
The evolution from (EIA) Enterprise Information Archiving to (DCG) Digital Communications Governance has been years in the making- from both a technology perspective, and ensuing buyer need. The enormous fines (over 2B) for global financial services institutions in the last two years has illustrated the urgent justification for investment in this category. There has also been a need for a symbolic evolution as well, as the EIA sector has produced a large amount of historical ill will. Customers in that space have had their data held hostage and their license renewals treated as a recurring annuity by their vendor providers, devoid of positive customer experience or relationship. When it comes to use cases like supervision and surveillance, with promises of AI usage and improved productivity, the end result has too often been poorly defined outcomes, clawed back projects with diminished expectations, and enormous wastes of time and capital. As a result of all of this, DCG buyers may look at this “new” segment with a healthy degree of skepticism and a “buyer beware” feeling.
At Theta Lake, we are confident in our ability to support the rapid, continued change of modern communications and our customer’s need for proactive compliance. Theta Lake was designed to support our customers choices for DCG buying criteria like:
- Platform coverage
- Modality need
- Use of in -meeting functionality
- Archive environment
- ML/NLP adoption and readiness
We designed our approach to be modular and intuitive, so our clients can enjoy rapid, repeatable success in the short term, which leads to continued, high impact success, capable of saving them millions of dollars in the long term.
Look to the future for DCG success, not the past (RIP EIA).