There’s a global tide of regulation rising around data privacy – from the GDPR to the CCPA in California, PIPEDA in Canada, APPI in Japan, Personal Data Protection Bill in India, PDPA in Singapore, and the pilot of CDR in Australia, just to name some.

A few facts about this tide, and what’s driving it?

  • Though privacy laws are a recent legal development, over 80 countries around the world have already enacted some type of privacy law.
  • Data breaches exposed 4.1 billion records in the first half of 2019.
  • 53% of organizations leave 1,000 or more files with sensitive data open to all employees.
  • 66% of consumers want to be able to “turn off” a company’s data use when they’re no longer interested in a product.

Today, businesses, especially those in heavily regulated sectors like financial services, are faced with what can be a monumental task: keeping track of all the business-critical documents and content collected or generated by their enterprise.

It’s an essential part of modern information (or data) governance, which is an enterprise’s strategic approach to managing its data, whether in digital form, documents, or archival records, in order to support business outcomes.

Poor data governance can hamstring regulatory compliance initiatives, which could cause problems for companies that need to comply with new data privacy and protection laws, such as the GDPR and CCPA. An enterprise data governance program typically results in the development of common data definitions and internal data standards that are applied in all business systems, boosting data consistency for both business and compliance uses.

One of the primary building blocks of an effective data governance program? Enterprise Content Management (ECM).

So what is Enterprise Content Management?

ECM is the business strategy and practice for capturing, managing, storing and delivering data and content by leveraging technology tools. ECM lets an enterprise manage its unstructured data, wherever that data resides across the organization.

How significant is unstructured data? In 1998, Merrill Lynch claimed, “unstructured data comprises the vast majority of data found in an organization, some estimates run as high as 80%.

That data may consist of documents, emails, digital content, or a host of other information. If strewn about the organization without oversight or access controls in place, each one of them can potentially be a risk magnet containing sensitive business content or personal information about a consumer, a customer, or an employee.

ECM: More than just warehousing data

The average amount of corporate data managed rose from 1.45 petabytes in 2015 to 9.70 PB in 2018, each petabyte consisting of 1,000 terabytes of data. Now more than ever, businesses need the ability to easily and quickly manage, access, and report on the stunning volumes of data they have on hand, particularly in financial services or healthcare.

But critical data is often stored across a wide range of silos: business applications, spreadsheets, word documents, SMS messages, scanned documents, reports, emails, faxes, photographs, statements, text files and more. But a capable Enterprise Content Management solution can provide a single source of truth for all content throughout an organization.

Collecting and collating it manually to accomplish this would be a nearly impossible task. And even then, it’s not enough just to simply warehouse your enterprise’s data in a single repository. The ability to access and analyze that information quickly, efficiently, and securely is important, both for business purposes and for meeting compliance obligations.

An ECM software solution substitutes digitized, automated means for manual content discovery and collection. So organizations are able to control that content, while also imposing flexible and appropriate levels of access, improving its security.

Simplifying content discovery and access control

An ECM solution simplifies content discovery for employees, while providing flexible and appropriate levels of access. When considering an ECM, a company should look for an offer that can:

  • Provide an sample, secure data repository that’s accessible to users immediately, whenever they require it.
  • Solve the information dilemma confronting enterprises thanks to records management features for storing, preserving, and automatically deleting data in compliance with legal and regulatory guidelines.
  • Handle huge amounts of data every hour of every day, automatically storing it for 24/7 retrieval.
  • Let users easily implement compliance essentials like audit trails, access restrictions, and retention policies.
  • Improve efficiency and productivity by streamlining business processes, cutting execution time, and eliminating human error.
  • Mine vast amounts of data from countless documents, applying multiple ranges and parameters to find exact results.

Businesses that were born in the digital age may have a leg up in their industry when building the architecture for an ECM solution, but an organization that’s been using technology for decades will be best served by a cost-effective solution that can layer over legacy systems with support for different search needs.

When analyzing ECM products, it’s best for prospective users to remember this: Data has no intrinsic value, just the value it provides when properly mined and leveraged to draw out insights and intelligence.

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