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Analysis: Shield named in Gartner’s new Digital Communications Governance market category

Gartner introduced a new market category in the Hype Cycle for Data Security 2023 report released over the weekend: Digital Communications Governance (DCG), giving a nod to Shield as a vendor leading the market evolution and technological revolution.

DCG replaces the Enterprise Information Archiving (EIA) category that has had its own Magic Quadrant report for years, echoing a tipping point for archiving’s long-declining relevance as it achieves commodity status. The new question: What do you do with all this data?

The evolution of EIA

The story begins in 1934 with a sheet of paper and ends in 2023 with an emoji.

Since the early days of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), financial firms were obligated under Rule 17a-4 to retain trade-related documented correspondence between employees and clients, increasing scrutiny following the Great Depression. Your typical archive was an actual warehouse with filing cabinets. Fast forward to 2003, when the rule was updated to include the preservation of broker dealers’ electronic communications in a slow response to increasing corporate reliance on emails, heralding the age of the on-premise digital archive.

Today’s avalanche of data started with a few rocks. What might have started with SMS and AOL Instant Messenger (remember that?) quickly accelerated to voice, Blackberries, WhatsApp, Salesforce, Finchats, Slack, and Teams – all on the back of the 2008 financial crisis requiring more and more surveillance on these records to defend against risk. Advances in internet and mobile connectivity, together with cloud computing led to changes in how we communicate and collaborate together.

COVID-19 accelerated this move to technology, bringing us to today’s massive influx of generated data and added complexity of digital communications’ various unstructured data types – all storable in an on-prem archive or in modern cloud storage solutions.

Enter increased regulatory scrutiny with billions of dollars in fines for lack of WhatsApp capture on top of changing cross-regulatory global requirements for a financial industry already in a confusing state of sub-crisis. We’ve reached a point where eComms data can no longer be stored and processed the way we used to.

Compliance became a game of defense, trying to keep from getting crushed by mountains of data. EIA was about fighting with your data, trying to tackle it all into another archive and manually extracting data with lexicon and discovery searches hoping to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.

A new world of playing offense with DCG

DCG is about playing offense with digital communications data. It’s less about storage and more about access, insight, and answers. In this new age of data, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing, new opportunities opened for those who could harness these new technologies with finesse and vision. Key outcomes include creating previously impossible risk and business intelligence insight, delivering user experience never before seen in an industry plagued by lagging innovation. This opened up the entire organizational dataset for answers.

In his analysis of DCG in the Hype Cycle report, author Michael Hoeck delves into the importance and impact of DCG solutions, suggesting a transition from a reactive approach to a proactive one in mitigating potential compliance and regulatory violations. Needs for new capabilities for consistent retention and legal hold policy management, enforcement, reporting, surveillance, supervision, behavioral analytics, auditing, and e-discovery are the new norm.

He also strongly recommends building an exit strategy for current legacy archives, where relying on total lift and shift approach data can become very costly and risky. Successful strategies can be implemented to determine which data needs to be moved, which can stay, and which archives can be rendered read-only to reduce costs.

The Shield revolution

In a market plagued by legacy technology and niche point solutions, Shield was named as a vendor leading the charge making organizations from energy outfits to the world’s largest tier 1 financial institutions, agile in the face of all this complex data, arming them with risk insights across the firm.

Shield’s rapid rise in the market is fueled by our modular approach to modern advancements in cloud computing and artificial intelligence with our founders’ strong experience and leadership in digital communications compliance in the financial services sector.

The Shield end-to-end communications compliance platform easily handles the escalating demands of regulatory and organizational compliance in the digital era. By enabling efficient retention and collection of any communication channel on a cloud-native infrastructure, ensuring data integrity with accurate classification, and data enrichment from other areas of the business like HR and trade data, everything is easily governed by flexible retention policies and scalable to rising global data residency and privacy requirements optimized for flexible storage strategies including cold storage.

Beyond facilitating faster responses to audits and e-discovery requests, analytics pipelines leverage constantly evolving advancements in data science like Neural Networks and Large Language Models to surface crucial risk insights. These analytics provide visibility into employee behavior, potential misconduct risks, and conduct assessments. This high-level analysis supports businesses in making informed, data-driven decisions and mitigating potential risks.

How to play offense

A Canadian court recently ruled that a thumbs-up emoji is tantamount to a digital signature, enforcing a contract and awarding damages for its breach. This ruling demonstrates how the answers to questions hiding in data need drastically new capabilities to analyze and interpret what’s going on in employee conversations.

The Digital Communications Governance hype report echoes the sentiment that financial institutions worldwide are all looking at different ways to get ahead of risk by scaling risk coverage, consolidating data strategies, and generating better insights to more stakeholders.

One of the best ways to accelerate compliance maturity is to ensure access to data and the answers hiding there. With Shield headlining the vendor list, it’s clear to see why EIA’s heyday has reached its sunset.

To get ahead of risk, you need a platform that doesn’t just have communications stored in it, but actually helps you read between the lines, surfacing context and intent like never before, and accelerating discovery collections so you can see more, know more, and solve more.

Ready to explore further? Contact our team of experts today for further insights.


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