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June 21, 2011

Socializing without Breaking Regulatory Compliance

By Larry Walsh

In case you haven’t noticed, IBM is on a big socialization kick. It’s advocating the use of social tools in business to execute on everything from routine communications to customer service to business intelligence. Big Blue sees “social” as the next catalyst for business performance and success.

But there’s a problem with socialization in the enterprise: compliance. All those tweets, shared communications and open collaboration servers between employees, partners and clients are rife for regulatory compliance violations.

Recognizing the risk exposure, Big Blue today announced IBM Connections, a new social networking platform that enables businesses to leverage the power of social tools with the protection of real-time monitoring for regulatory compliance. What Connections does is track and trace as it flows through the social stream.

Later this year, IBM with its partner Actiance will introduce an add-on tool, Actiance Vantage for IBM Connector, which will automate the archives and logs social content to assist enterprises in regulatory data retention requirements.

IBM claims to be the first to offer real-time compliance with enterprise socialization tools.

It’s an interesting concept, since each advancement in communications has brought new challenges around data custody, protection and integrity and, ultimately regulatory compliance. Take instant messaging for example.

When public instant messaging applications such as AOL’s AIM and Microsoft’s Messenger started infiltrating the enterprise, many organizations either had to create polices for their use or blocked access because they could not secure or audit the data in the IM stream. This was particularly problematic for the heavily regulated financial institution.

To solve the instant messaging problem, enterprise eventually adopted proprietary instant messaging tools or implemented add-on tools that enabled logging, encryption and content filtering of data flowing over public systems.

The compliance issue IBM is addressing in Connection could prove an important step in the greater utilization of socialization tools by enterprisers. It could also serve as a catalyst for the adoption of similar capabilities by other social communications platforms.

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