Time marches on, and if the COVID pandemic has taught us anything, it is that the future is uncertain. Nobody was prepared for the impact the virus would have on every aspect of our day-to-day lives. But here we are, officially on the other side of this global pandemic – a bit bruised and battle weary, and very keen to try and future-proof ourselves and our businesses.
So what should we be looking out for? Certainly, one of the most important areas to focus on is ensuring that business communications archives can stand up to whatever the future brings. As the number of devices and communication channels used to conduct business proliferates, more and more business-critical information is residing in these records. At the same time, they are under more scrutiny than ever before – from regulators trying to ensure compliance, the public who are concerned with data privacy and the protection of their rights, company CEOs and boards who rely on this information to make strategic business decisions, and lawyers who need easy access to accurate records for legal discovery and defense.
Ensuring that business communications records remain accessible and usable over the long term, even as technology and communication methods evolve, is one of the next big challenges facing organizations.
Why Is Communication Archiving So Important?
One of the main reasons record-keeping has become such a critical business objective is the proliferation of regulations and legislation requiring organizations to keep digital copies of all business-related communication, regardless of the platform or device that it takes place on. Whether it is two employees chatting via Whatsapp on their personal devices about a work transaction or a chatbot offering advice to a consumer on a business website, it has to be captured, stored, and if necessary accessed easily in the future.
The focus on access to information has its roots in open records laws (also known as freedom of information laws), which were designed to provide citizens with the right to access certain types of information held by government organizations. This focus on archiving for open-record requests grew in scope as other regulatory bodies required the same transparency and access to information from private businesses and organizations.
Currently, great importance is placed on a company’s ability to provide records that prove compliance with the many privacy, security, and industry regulations and laws. Consequences for those who do not are onerous, and can result in large fines, the suspension of operating licenses, and even criminal liability.
What Does Future-Proofing Communications Archives Involve?
There are several factors that you need to consider when thinking about what a future-proof archiving solution should do. Some of the most important include:
- Technological Obsolescence: The number of unusable CD-ROMS in the world bears testimony to the frustration of not being able to access records because the technology it is on is no longer supported. Technologies are developing rapidly, and you have to anticipate and be prepared for platforms, applications, and computer hardware becoming obsolete. It is not always easy to predict which technologies will persevere and which will disappear (Betamax video anyone?) so it is important to consider backward compatibility and plan for data migration when adopting new technologies.
- Metadata Preservation: When it comes to understanding communication records, context is king. Without knowing the who, what, when, and why of each communication, the meaning and significance of the information can be lost. Ensuring that your storage system keeps metadata is an important part of future-proofing your archives. It also makes searching large numbers of records easier and more effective.
- Scalable Storage Solutions: Like the world’s population, communication records multiply at a huge rate, and your archiving solution will need to keep up. Scalable storage solutions that can accommodate growing volumes of communication data (like cloud-based options) offer much-needed flexibility and will prevent you from having to change systems unnecessarily.
- User Access and Searchability: Possibly one of the most important factors in a usable archive system is how easily records can be searched and retrieved. Given the sheer volume of data, finding one piece of communication that may be critical for a legal case or to prove compliance can be like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. How well this can be done in the future depends on the extent of the indexing and search technologies implemented now.
These are just some of the things to factor into thinking about the future of your communications archive. Equally as important is to understand and anticipate some of the communication trends.
So What Does the Future of Communications Look Like?
That is, of course, the million-dollar question. While we can rarely predict what the future technological landscape will look like, or account for how quickly it will change, some clear trends indicate what’s coming our way. These trends include:
- 5G Technology: 5G networks are being rolled out internationally. They enable faster and more reliable communication, making it much easier and desirable to use advanced communication platforms like real-time communication and high-quality video streaming.
- Chatbots and Virtual Assistants: AI – the technology that is captivating the world. AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are being used more frequently to manage customer queries and provide personalized recommendations. They will become an increasing presence on the internet, making them an important communication channel.
- Messaging Applications and Chat Platforms: It is almost impossible to keep up with the number of messaging apps and chat platforms that are available on the mobile market. They have gained immense popularity as communication channels, and are becoming the primary way in which people communicate not only socially, but for business too. Right now they offer real-time messaging, voice and video calls, file sharing, and integrations with various services, and we can expect these offerings, along with the number of applications available, to increase.
- Live Streaming Platforms: Live streaming is an increasingly popular technology, being used for both entertainment and professional purposes. Platforms, such as YouTube Live, Twitch, and Facebook Live, enable real-time video broadcasting where presenters can also engage with their audience through live comments or video participation. As they are being used more and more to share live events, conferences, and interactive sessions, finding ways to create records out of them is critical.
- Blockchain-Based Communication: Blockchain technology has expanded its applications beyond financial transactions. Blockchain-based communication uses blockchain technology to enhance security, privacy, identity verification, and decentralized networks, and it is fast setting new standards for compliance and data protection.
These emerging technologies and channels are continuously evolving and expanding, and while they present exciting possibilities for the future, they also challenge how organizations can future-proof their communications archives across all of these different channels.
Cloud Communications Platforms: The Future of Mobile Communication Archiving
The cloud refers to a network of remote servers that are hosted on the internet and are used to store, manage, and process data rather than storing data locally on personal computers or physical servers. Cloud communication platforms play a crucial role in future-proofing communication archives.
Cloud platforms provide centralized data storage, and their storage capacity is almost endless. This means organizations can store communication records in one secure location that is entirely scalable. This centralized approach ensures that records are easier to archive and access, and they can be efficiently managed and protected over time.
Cloud platforms also automatically create backups of communication data, such as messages, call logs, or files, without requiring manual intervention. As an added safety precaution they also store copies of data in different physical locations. This redundancy ensures that if one server or data center experiences a failure, there are alternative copies of the data available, allowing for uninterrupted access to your data.
Another advantage of cloud platforms for communications archiving is that they offer clear migration paths and regular software upgrades. This ensures that archived data can be smoothly transitioned to newer versions or migrated to more advanced platforms without disruptions or data loss, making it usable regardless of when it was stored.
Whatever your archiving solution, it is clear that a cloud-based platform is essential.
LeapXpert: Your Partner For The Future
LeapXpert is perfectly positioned to assist you in future-proofing your communications archives. Our LeapXpert Communications Platform is an interoperable, mobile-first solution that federates, orchestrates, and unifies messaging and voice and provides unparalleled visibility into data from any communication channel. Visit our website or book a demo to find out more.
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