A recent study from Theta Lake, a pioneer in digital communications governance, found that 69% of IT and compliance professionals expect the use of unified communication and collaboration (UCC) tools to increase in 2024. With firms using an average of 4.6 communication and collaboration tools, it is evident that UCC tools have become an embedded and essential part of modern business, but firms must ensure they are compliantly getting the full value of these tools.
Theta Lake’s new report emphasises that UCC tools make up the fabric of the workplace and will play an increasingly prominent role within the business plan. These tools allow firms to leverage a wide variety of communication modes, whether it is voice calls, video, text chat, whiteboards or many other features. With such a diversity in communication modalities, it can be tough for compliance teams to effectively monitor communications in their entirety. Theta Lake’s takes an innovative approach to digital communications governance, enabling unified capture, search and proactive compliance processes to ensure compliance teams can meet regulatory requirements while using all capabilities offered via UCC tools.
There are a wide variety of communication and collaboration platforms available in the market, each with a plethora of features that provide users with a variety of methods to communicate. Firms need to ensure they can compliantly leverage the productivity, flexibility and efficiency that UCC tools offer. If they fail to do this, they risk staff moving to off-channel communication channels or sizable fines. Marc Gilman, General Counsel & VP of Compliance at Theta Lake, noted that it is easy for firms to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of UCC platforms, and advised them to start with one relevant digital communication tool. Once they have picked the platform, they can build the in-depth recordkeeping practices around it and ensure staff stick to it and expand beyond there if desired.
He said, “Firms are challenged because they need to decide on which tools are the core tools for them, and then open those tools and make them as sticky with their employees as they can. In our view, opening the tools and making sure that employees have the kind of full scope of capabilities enabled means that they’ll keep using the tools and they’d be less likely to have off channel communications.”
There is often a natural reaction to restrict functionality in tools, Gilman stated, but firms should avoid this knee jerk reaction. To ensure staff use desired platforms, firms will need to enable all the features a platform offers, not block them off. This means letting staff leverage in-app functions like polls, text chat, emojis and more. Theta Lake’s survey found that 68% of firms are disabling features on their approved communication tools so they can manage challenges related to search visibility, compliance, privacy and security. However, removing these functions can mean staff move to unapproved, feature-rich alternatives. It also means companies are not taking advantage of the capabilities they are already paying for.
This is something that is happening. Despite the risk of fines or other ramifications, Theta Lake’s Report found that 74% of respondents believe their staff are using unmonitored communication platforms, a rise from 66% in 2022. The best way to fix this problem is for firms to approve the most popular platforms and ensure all features are available to them.