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Social messaging and file-sharing content is left unmanaged in a third of firms, Iron Mountain/AIIM study shows

March 2015 by Iron Mountain

Despite the fact that the use of digital communications and collaboration platforms is growing faster in businesses than among consumers , around one in three organisations has no-one responsible for governing the content of instant messaging (39%), mobile (32%), social media (28%) and cloud-sharing content (33%), according to a new study sponsored by storage and information management firm, Iron Mountain.

The study , undertaken among information professionals by AIIM, the global community for information professionals, also reveals that just under one in ten organisations is failing to regulate well-established information types such as email, customer data and public website content.

With text-based messaging now constituting a formal record and subject to the same data protection, compliance and retention requirements as paper and electronic business documents, the lack of effective monitoring and accountability could have a significant impact on information security and compliance.

The data shows the volume and variety of information now moving through these new channels. In Europe, the average company now uses 37 different file-sharing services and 125 collaboration services – with four million businesses worldwide using Dropbox . In addition, companies are still struggling with older channels of communication such as email, with a combined total of 121 emails per day being sent or received by employees last year.

As content posted and distributed through these new channels can be implicated in legal disputes such as insider malpractice, leaks of confidential information or in breaches of acceptable use, it is vital that it is not overlooked by information governance.

“Content management, storage, retention and retrieval policies need to be applied as rigorously to information created and distributed through these new channels as they should be applied to more traditional data sets and paper records,” said Sue Trombley, Managing Director in Professional Services. “This is not always going to be easy. The challenge of determining which social messages constitute a record and applying a retention rule is going to appear overwhelming for many businesses already overloaded with growing volumes of information in multiple formats. But failure to take on the challenge is going to expose many an organisation to unacceptable levels of risk.”

Iron Mountain and AIIM recommend making use of the following checklist to ensure all information is managed responsibly:

• Ensure every type of content has an owner – allocate responsibility to records and information management, IT, legal/compliance, marketing or HR, for example
- • Segment and prioritise content – and focus on the high priority/sensitive/confidential records
• Rigorously implement data capture, retention and deletion policies
• Automate the retention and deletion policies
• Implement an ECM/ERM system to replace informal online file shares
• Create and communicate clear employee policies and guidelines
• Outsource data management and storage if required

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