Effective communication is the golden thread that transforms thousands of individual activities into a strategic plan. It lies at the heart of every operation, whether you are sharing critical information with employees, collaborating with partners, or engaging with customers. It’s unsurprising then that so much technology is focused on newer, quicker, and more effective ways for people to communicate with each other, especially in the business arena.
The proliferation of communication platforms has certainly made it easier for people to instantly be in touch and share ideas and information, but it has also led to an exponential growth of communication data and a simultaneous need to manage and safeguard that data.
With the increasing sophistication of data analysis tools, including the use of AI, data has become a strategic asset for organizations across industries. Ensuring that data is treated with as much importance as any other valuable asset is key to business success. That’s where a robust digital communications governance framework comes into play. Effective communications data governance requires a highly structured and well-resourced approach to managing and protecting this data, along with a range of activities, policies, and procedures to make sure the approach is well-executed.
In this blog, we’ll explore what such a framework entails and how you can establish one within your enterprise to safeguard your communications data while maximizing its potential for strategic advantage.
The Significance of Digital Communications Governance
There are many types of communication data, including emails, instant messages, video conferences, and more. Here’s why governing this data is so important:
- Data Security: In the wake of many incidences of misuse, protecting personal information like communication data has become a priority of the 2020s. Making sure that data is kept safe and confidential but is also available to the right people when needed is an important balancing act.
- Regulatory Compliance: Most countries have laws regulating how communications data is kept and used. Laws such as the GDPR and CCPA dictate how data should be collected, processed, and stored. Different industry bodies such as FINRA and the FCA that govern the financial sector have strict rules about the retention of any communication data. Non-compliance can result in hefty fines and even suspensions.
- Risk Mitigation: Even if you are doing everything right, there will be times you will be called on to prove it. In the event of litigation or disputes, a well-structured governance framework ensures that there is a clear trail of communication data to support your case.
- Reputation Management: Trust is a precious asset, difficult to build and almost impossible to regain when lost. People take the protection of personal data seriously, and safeguarding your communication data will build trust with your stakeholders.
Challenges of Digital Communications Governance
Over 123 billion SMS’s and WhatsApp messages and approximately 347.3 billion e-mails are sent globally each day. Thankfully not all to one organization, but even so, an overwhelming amount of communications data is generated on an ongoing basis. There are a number of challenges that emerge when trying to put in place an effective governance infrastructure. Some of them include:
- Data Volume and Variety: The sheer volume and variety of communication data generated by modern enterprises can be overwhelming. Managing and analyzing this data is a complex task that needs a lot of thought and expertise.
- Data Privacy and Compliance: As mentioned earlier, there are a number of regulations that govern how communications data should be handled. An added challenge is that these laws and rules change frequently as regulators try to keep up with technological advancements. Keeping up with these rapidly changing requirements is a constant challenge.
- Security Threats: Your communication data is not just valuable to you – it is a prime target for cyberattacks, including phishing, ransomware, and data breaches. Safeguarding data against threats is challenging because as organizations find one way to defend against attacks, cybercriminals develop new tactics, making cybersecurity a never-ending area of focus.
- Integration Challenges: Integrating data governance tools with existing communication platforms can be complex. Data will be scattered across different communication platforms and applications, making it challenging to create a centralized governance strategy.
- Technological Advancements: Communication technology is continually evolving, introducing new tools and platforms including mobile devices. Staying up to date and integrating these advancements into your governance framework can be challenging.
Addressing these challenges requires a combination of a well-thought-out governance framework, along with the right technology and solutions. So how do you get there?
Eight Steps to an Effective Digital Communications Governance Framework
Step 1: Assess Your Communication Data Landscape
The first step in establishing a communications data governance framework is to get a clear understanding of your communication data landscape. This involves identifying all the different types of communication data your organization uses and where they are generated. Here’s how to go about it:
- Data Inventory: Start by creating an inventory of all communication data sources in your organization. This includes email systems, messaging platforms, video conferencing tools, and any other channels used for communication.
- Data Classification: Categorize communication data based on its sensitivity and importance. For example, customer emails containing personal information may be classified as highly sensitive, while routine internal messages as less so.
- Data Flow Mapping: Chart the flow of communication data in your organization. Understand how data moves from one department to another and how it’s stored and archived.
Step 2: Define Data Ownership and Responsibility
With data governance, accountability has to be clear and personal – in other words, you have to clearly define the people who are responsible for data ownership. Based on the data inventory identify individuals or teams responsible for specific communication data categories. For example, the IT department may oversee email data, while the legal team manages compliance-related records. Clearly outline the responsibilities of data owners, including data protection, access control, and compliance monitoring. Ensure that these responsibilities are well-understood and documented.
Step 3: Implement Access Controls
Controlling who can access and modify communication data is critical, and putting controls in place to make sure that only authorized people can do so is an important next step. Here are some key elements of a robust access control framework:
- Role-Based Access Control (RBAC): Access rights have to be based on job roles, not on people. Employees should only have access to the data necessary for their tasks.
- Encryption: Communication data should be encrypted both in transit and at rest. This adds an extra layer of security, making it challenging for unauthorized parties to access sensitive information.
- Authentication: Use strong authentication methods, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), to verify the identity of users accessing communication data.
Step 4: Define Data Retention Policies
Communication data can accumulate quickly, and if not managed properly will lead to dreaded data sprawl – the uncontrolled and chaotic existence of data across systems and devices. To avoid clutter and make sure you are complying with privacy regulations, establish clear data retention policies. Define how long different types of communication data should be kept based on regulatory requirements and the nature of the data. Set up an archiving system to store historical communication data that is no longer needed for day-to-day operations but must be kept for compliance or legal reasons. Develop procedures for secure data to be deleted once it reaches the end of its retention period. This is an area that can strongly benefit from technological solutions that allow the automation of all these functions.
Step 5: Educate and Train Your Team
Your communication data governance framework is only as strong as the people who implement it. Invest in employee education and training to make sure that everyone understands their role in protecting communication data and the consequences if they don’t. It sounds ominous, but it is important that employees understand that violations can be detrimental to the entire enterprise and that the organization takes non-compliance seriously. Develop training programs that cover data security best practices, compliance requirements, and the proper use of communication tools. Regularly communicate the importance of data governance to all employees and encourage a culture of data responsibility and security.
Step 6: Embrace Technology Solutions
Effective communications data governance can’t be done without the proper technology helping you – the volume and complexity of the data are too elaborate to be managed manually. Aside from the data security tools used, consider implementing solutions with the following technology:
- Archiving and Retention Systems that store and manage historical communication data. The right solution should allow you to set retention periods and alert the data owner when something should be deleted.
- Monitoring and Surveillance tools that will allow the organization to monitor communication in real-time in order to pick up problems early and intervene before they become damaging.
- Data Classification and Labeling Tools that can assist in categorizing communication data based on its sensitivity level, making it easier to enforce access controls and data protection policies.
- Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) systems that can integrate communication tools such as video conferencing, instant messaging, and voice calls into one platform.
- Mobile Device Management (MDM) Solutions that allow organizations to manage and secure mobile devices used for communication. This is essential in a mobile-driven workplace.
Step 7: Incident Response Planning
Despite your best efforts, data breaches and incidents can still occur. Prepare for these types of events by developing an incident response plan. Designate a team that is responsible for responding to data incidents promptly and effectively.
Step 8: Review and Improve
A communications data governance framework is not static. Regularly review its effectiveness and make improvements as needed. Encourage employees to provide feedback on the framework’s usability and effectiveness. Compare your data governance practices with industry best practices to identify areas for improvement. Continuously update your governance framework to align with changes in regulations and industry standards.
LeapXpert: Your Partner in Building an Effective Communications Data Governance Framework
The LeapXpert Communications Platform maintains a complete record of all conversations between enterprise employees and customers to ensure that data privacy and governance standards are met. Using a mobile-first approach, LeapXpert allows users to conduct text and voice conversations through customers’ preferred channels, all within a secure and unified environment. Businesses can maintain a comprehensive view and full visibility of employee-customer communication without capturing employees’ private and personal messages.
The LeapXpert enterprise solution allows organizations to set rules and requirements for the types and levels of materials that can be sent internally or externally, including specific keywords and phrases. It also offers full audit and monitoring of dashboards, displaying the real-time status of all messages, conversations, and data sent, flagging when conditions and rules have been breached.
The LeapXpert Communications Platform can also be easily integrated with leading third-party archiving, surveillance, and analytics platforms, making it an essential part of your compliance tech stack. Book now for a demo.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Useful tips and helpful information.
You can unsubscribe at any time - obviously!