GTMAccount = 'GTM-NWQF9Q'; dataLayer = [{ 'pageCategories': ["blog-topics-v2/communication-surveillance","blog-topics-v2/product-spotlight/relativity-trace"], 'pageTags': [] }];

Your single source for new lessons on legal technology, e-discovery, compliance, and the people innovating behind the scenes.

How to Make the Business Case for a Communications Surveillance Platform

Mark Taylor

Editor's Note: In part 1 of this series, we discussed the key components of a defensible, efficient communications surveillance platform.

Before you embark on a trip through the communication surveillance technology market, you’ll need the backing of internal stakeholders. The argument is fairly simple: the workplace has irrevocably changed, therefore how we monitor regulated employees has changed. We need new technology capable of handling this generational shift. But if budget is an issue (and be honest, when is it not?) it may be useful to enter the meeting armed with knowledge of the costs, risk, and choices ahead of you.

Your plan may look something like this: 

  • Executive summary & objectives – Your boss may only read this part, so it’s best written last and should include every necessary element.
  • Pros & cons – A straightforward analysis of why a new communication surveillance tool is vital.
  • Costs – Include resource requirements and potentially an examination of any move from on-prem to cloud, and how much it could save the business.
  • Risk assessment – This should also consider the risks of not acting and remaining reliant on the old solution. 
  • Options – Cover the top vendors on their market and how they stack up.

#1: Executive Summary & Objectives

Your main objective as a compliance officer is to protect the company from the litany of risks it faces. To that end, it will not be difficult to show how vital more advanced technology is in the current environment where markets remain unstable. SaaS solutions with analytical capabilities are timely, infrastructural, provide a competitive advantage through insights where older models are reactive, and they improve efficiency.

#2: Pros & Cons

Here are some pointers to bear in mind when drawing up the benefits and drawbacks of investing in new communication surveillance technology.

Pros

  • Intelligent communication surveillance tools do more than just generate alerts; they enable management to make smarter business decisions.
  • SaaS deployments allow for a much greater level of data to be ingested and cover chat and voice applications that older systems are incompatible with.
  • Streamlined workflows improve productivity across compliance, legal, and IT departments.
  • It sends a message to regulators that you take compliance seriously. 

Cons

  • Teams may require training to use the technology.
  • The true value of the product is often not realized outside of surveillance operation.

#3: Costs

Cost reductions should consider the long-term value of reducing headcounts and factor in the time spent on false positives. Manually reviewing alerts invariably means costs run higher. Here you should take into account all time wasted on slow processes that can be automated by the technology, such as email threading, translating documents, or creating a surveillance policy. 

Remote work has exacerbated the number of alerts generated, so the true impact of monitoring a dispersed workforce may not become apparent for another year or so. One thing is for sure—it won’t be any less intensive. 

Driving efficiency is about much more than saving costs. Advanced communications surveillance can reduce the workload of a compliance officer significantly, making the function healthier, prompting less turnover, and lowering the costs involved in replacing experienced staff.

#4: Risks

Surveillance is about balancing risk, and choosing the right vendor will cut the threat to your firm significantly. Analysis should include the risk inherent in overloading compliance staff with alerts—instances of misconduct could slip through the net, or a backlog builds up, requiring more time and money to clear.

Once you’ve successfully advocated for new technology, selecting the vendor may be the hardest part. The next section will help you identify what to look for, and what to ask.

#5: Options

There are many ways to assess the credibility of a communication surveillance vendor, from their willingness to allow you to trial their technology, to their knowledge of financial services compliance. Here are some of the things to look for:

  • Learn about their background

    Communication surveillance technology has evolved swiftly. Like other technology sectors, there’s been a period of consolidation that effectively put a coat of paint on some older providers whose technology has not kept pace. Research the history of the company along with trails of updates to see how much has actually changed.

  • Ask for a proof of concept or proof of value

    It’s imperative to test the solution when a long-term commitment is the end goal. Trustworthy vendors will walk you through a demonstration and, if conditions are met, give you a free trial of the product.

  • Talk to current customers

    Research current clients and ask them about the underlying technology, the implementation process, and ongoing relationship. Major consultancies, such as Deloitte, KPMG, or BDO, can also give you insight into how the solution would fit your requirements.

  • Investigate their values

    Look for vendors who put a premium on strengthening relationships, as this will undoubtedly lead to a long-term partnership built on trust. Ask if they have a dedicated support team in place, how the relationship will function, how and when they are available to help, and also how well they know the industry.

Compliance for the Future

Compliance is often an afterthought when markets are depressed, as businesses allocate resources to profit generation. Rather than retreating, this is exactly the time for the function to step up and make itself heard. Operational risks are heightened during periods of uncertainty, as the pressure to deliver can be a leading trigger for misconduct. 

Lexicon-based communications surveillance technology may be one of the first casualties of the post-COVID compliance era given the amount of data now flowing through our organizations. Volumes of trade information and communication logs will continue to rise, and the sheer weight of it may present one of the greatest threats to business continuity if left to spiral. New asset classes, jurisdictions, and regulations all need to be covered by compliance teams, many of whom see cloud adoption as the only possible way to scale their operations.

To do that they will need intelligent, holistic communication surveillance solutions that can help spot problems before they escalate, enhance governance and reporting, and strengthen operational resilience no matter how uncertain the future is.

Buyer’s Guide: Communication Surveillance Software

Mark Taylor is a compliance expert and a writer for Relativity.