It’s hardly news that instant messaging is supplanting email for internal business communication. Each day, corporate legal and IT teams are pressured to either tolerate employees conducting business with consumer chat solutions or empower them by institutionalising an IM platform across the enterprise.
Increasingly, they’re choosing the latter; in the global financial industry, the dominant Instant Bloomberg chat platform boasts some 320,000 users.
Given the heavy use of institutional chat, it naturally follows that voluminous archives of IM data will increasingly contain critical evidence for commercial litigation, compliance, and investigations. The ongoing LIBOR scandal is but one example of the evidentiary impact of chat data.
Faced with an increasingly vigilant regulatory climate, financial services organisations are having to prepare for the continued growth of data alongside these pressures.
While such enquiries are never a welcome development to begin with, they are particularly troubling for organisations without adequate internal compliance programmes and tools to handle large volumes of company data for eDisclosure and internal investigations.
In the face of such enquiries or lawsuits, identifying and presenting key communications is a critical issue.
The data challenge
Unlike emails, IMs are replete with irregular formatting and extraneous metadata. Chat platforms like Bloomberg typically log and display every time a user enters or exits the platform, or the particular chat room or group.
All of these entrances, exits, participant counts, timestamps, and other metadata can complicate the processing and display of IM data, making review more difficult.
IM conversations also present a unique problem in the highly unstructured data they contain. Once upon a time, email was the frontrunner for informal communication compared to the hardcopy memoranda and letters it supplanted. Yet instant messaging typically defies even email's lax standards, creating an added challenge for investigations.
Introducing eDisclosure to the problem
Legal teams have routinely struggled to find the information that matters among large volumes of chat communications across financial services organisations. Teams can spend substantial time wading through data, often against the clock.
For banks and companies in other highly regulated industries, a robust analytical eDisclosure tool that offers clear, rapid insight into every kind of enterprise data can be the difference between creating or damaging a perception that the company is working in good faith to comply with regulatory authorities.
Advanced analytics can help legal teams weed out crucial information faster and with greater accuracy, yet the extraneous metadata and other peculiarities of chat data have previously confounded such tools.
New, intelligent processing of IM data, however, can turn this challenge on its head. After all, metadata is a double-edged sword: for whatever complexity it brings, it also offers valuable clues for fact investigations and useful data points for culling document volumes.
EDisclosure platforms can embrace chat metadata, map it as closely as possible to the email fields we’ve all come to know, and make it available for effective filtering and targeted searching.
Presentation is key
Presenting chat communications as clear, easy-to-read documents encompassing entire chat discussions (or parsed into, say, 24 hour increments) can make for far more effective review and analysis.
For tackling the issue of informal prose, phrase analysis can help; misspelled words are less likely to evade your reach when looked at in pairs, with the variations ranked by frequency of occurrence.
Concept analysis can look beyond individual search terms to the broader context in which they appear, grouping documents based on a broader analysis of their contents. Continuous machine learning can build on what you’ve already found, to suggest likely relevant documents for review from chat, along with email and the rest of your data.
With intelligent processing, clear document rendering, and advanced analytics, it is possible to efficiently cull and comprehend chat data. If financial services companies are going to be ready in the face of increasing regulation and compliance demands, they need to face the growing popularity of IM as a communication method head on.
Given the prevalence of enterprise IM platforms today, eDisclosure technology must and can deal with chat data.
Only then will legal and compliance teams at financial services organisations be able to get a handle on the communications that matter.
Sourced from Hal Marcus, eDiscovery attorney, Recommind