Founded in 1924, this Colorado-based utility firm (CBUF) is a municipal utility provider of electricity, natural gas, water, and wastewater services with a focus on solid customer service, competitive prices, and environmentally responsible operations. As with virtually all growing organizations, this 2,500-employee firm was experiencing rapid proliferation of emails and other digital assets resulting in increased legal exposure, compliance gaps, and data management costs. In addition, CBUF had to ensure its data management initiative would address the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) issuance of Order 717, a response to the Enron scandal requiring all public utilities to abide by certain regulations with penalties and fines for failure to comply.
Based on these requirements, the CBUF demanded a flexible and scalable solution that could resolve data proliferation issues while addressing legal and compliance requirements. CBUF realized that a unified information governance solution would offer the necessary data classification, categorization, and preservation functionality required by the organization.
Compliance with FERC 717
One of the top initiatives for the project was addressing the FERC 717 order, which requires regulated utilities companies to manage and prevent communications between marketing function employees and marketing affiliates. ZL Compliance Manager provided full compliance assurances through its focused ethical wall monitoring non-compliant cross-departmental communications. Customizable keyword and metadata rules further helped bolster corporate compliance. In addition to the ethical walls and policy rules, companies are able to perform targeted keyword or userbased searches to uncover suspected violations that may have slipped between the cracks or ad-hoc internal investigations.
ZL Compliance Manager is one application under the Unified Archive® platform that allows organizations to perform cost effective review on regulated communications. Providing the necessary framework to flag and sample target emails, instant messages, and other electronic communications, the platform helped the company decrease costs and effort associated with supervision, review, and proof of compliance.
Besides satisfying compliance obligations, the CBUF was looking to improve its electronic discovery processes. Previously, legal and IT teams found it difficult to quickly uncover relevant data from corporate file shares and SharePoint servers in addition to the email environments already under discovery. The CBUF realized it needed to take quick action in order to simplify and improve its collection and preservation process before the expanding scope of discoverable electronic content outgrew the organization’s current workflow.
“By always looking ahead, ZL can provide its customers with peace of mind as their industry advances and their needs evolve.”
Arvind Srinivasan, CTO ZL Technologies
Soon after the initial deployment, the company’s attorneys came to recognize Unified Archive®’s inherent benefits. The legal team subsequently expanded the functionality of its ZL deployment by upgrading their lisences to include the custodian preservation notices on top of the existing case management capabilities. Unified Archive® and its single platform offers compliance, eDiscovery, analytics, records management and governance functions under a unified framework, fulfilling governance requirements while greatly reducing the cost and effort associated with disjointed governance applications.
Today, CBUF uses Unified Archive® to process email and files residing in email servers, corporate shares and SharePoint environments. However, unstructured data comes in many different formats, which need to be read and archived independently. Unified Archive® already connects to a multitude of other unstructured content systems like social media platforms, Bloomberg chats, and IM providers. As any new data types are adopted within the firm, ZL’s modular architecture allows functionality for each of these new data types to be activated within CBUF’s system instantaneously. This allows CBUF to immediately search, manage, and process new data types within their existing system without additional training, setup, or reallocation of resources.
“We see our customers growing each day,” says Arvind Srinivasan, CTO of ZL Technologies. “So we work with many leading edge companies’ compliance and legal teams, as well as the regulators themselves to identify the next round of requirements and regulations and the tools needed to satisfy them. This enables us to prepare ahead of time and build technologies today that will be used in the future. By always looking ahead, ZL can provide its customers with peace of mind that as their industry advances and their needs evolve, ZL and its unified platform will be ready to provide technologies to help manage data and mitigate risk for years to come.”
Currently, CBUF is looking to expand its ZL functionality by rolling out archiving capabilities to supplement their upcoming move to Microsoft Office 365 (O365). ZL will work with O365 to archive emails for CBUF's existing eDiscovery and compliance processes. Additionally, CBUF plans to use O365's native encryption functionality for emails, and ZL has built decryption technology to ensure these emails are properly archived.