• United States
Executive Editor

Vendors tackle electronic records retention

Mar 15, 20044 mins
Adobe SystemsEnterprise ApplicationsSecurity

Bank of America’s securities unit last week agreed to pay a record $10 million penalty to the Securities and Exchange Commission for record-keeping violations and failing to produce documents – in particular, e-mails – requested as part of an SEC investigation.

The fine is the largest imposed for a violation of this type, the SEC says. But it’s not the first. In 2002, five Wall Street brokerages each accepted a $1.65 million fine for improperly storing e-mails.

Despite a string of corporate governance scandals related to archiving electronic documents, U.S. companies still aren’t vigilant about handling such communications. Many have no policies in place for retaining and destroying e-mail, instant messages and other electronic content, according to a pair of professional organizations.

The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) and the Association of Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA) last week unveiled the results of a survey of 2,200 records managers. Among respondents, 47% say their company doesn’t include electronic records in its retention and destruction schedules, and 59% don’t have a formal e-mail retention policy.

While certified records managers typically handle paper documents, the job of overseeing electronic records falls to the IT department, according to 71% of the survey’s respondents.

Eager to help with corporate record-keeping practices are software and services vendors – many of which unveiled new wares at AIIM’s enterprise content-management conference held last week in New York.

Open Text, for example, announced plans to add instant-messaging capabilities to its Livelink collaboration and content management software suite. The company’s new Livelink Instant Messenger, due this week, provides tools for creating secure, auditable instant messages. It supports common IM functions, such as displaying which colleagues are online and letting users personalize contact lists. Livelink IM gives users the option of retaining IM content, which the software then indexes to allow for subsequent searches and retrieval.

Meanwhile, Iron Mountain debuted Enterprise E-Mail Management, adding to its portfolio of outsourced records and information management services. The new service adds tools to address e-mail compliance requirements. For example, users can classify mail items for retention purposes, the vendor says. Under the covers, Legato’s EmailXtender technology analyzes, captures and forwards specific mail-server content to Iron Mountain’s Web-based Digital Archive service, which indexes and stores the content.

FileNet unveiled Web-based software that combines collaboration, business process-management and content management capabilities. Team Collaboration Manager provides tools for running discussion forums, Web meetings and interactive polls, and it captures content according to corporate practices for regulatory compliance. The software, which is scheduled to ship in the third quarter, is integrated with other modules in FileNet’s P8 suite, including Web Content Manager for publishing content to corporate Web sites, and Records Manager for managing project content in accordance with corporate governance and regulatory compliance mandates.

EMC division Documentum also unveiled compliance products that are aimed at helping companies address regulatory and business requirements across content life cycle.

Documentum launched Compliance Manager, a new Web-based application that lets companies create, store, share, revise, approve and distribute information within an audited environment. With Compliance Manager, companies can develop and monitor content-related processes in accordance with regulatory requirements and industry standards, the vendor says. For example, the product supports compliance with the Food and Drug Administration’s requirements for electronic records and signatures, as well as SEC and Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

Also Adobe Systems previewed new forms-processing technology that can handle electronic and paper form submissions. The key to the new technology – which is part of Adobe’s Intelligent Document Platform – is a bar code that Adobe says can eliminate the need for manual data entry. It’s designed for companies that deal with a high volume of paper forms such as tax returns, account applications and change-of-address requests, Adobe says.

With the new tools, a company can create a bar-code-enabled Adobe PDF form to be distributed via the Web, e-mail or CD-ROM. As the customer fills in the form, the bar code captures data being input. Even if the customer opts to print the form and then mail or fax it back, the bar code retains an electronic version of the form data. Upon receipt, the company can scan the bar code to capture the form data and deliver it to a back-end system for processing. The bar-code-enabled forms software is expected to be available by year-end.