Now is the time for Compliance in Office 365 and SharePoint

Office 365 is one of the fastest growing products in history. With this shift to the cloud, companies have been moving their collaboration, consolidating their file shares, moving data from personal drives containing personal information. At the same time the world has changed, not only regulations, but privacy considerations stemming from HIPPA, GDPR, CCPA, and various global and local privacy considerations have changed the way we work. In our recent webinar on 4 easy steps to compliance with myself and Colligo, we discussed the shift to Office 365.

There has been significant momentum to move to the cloud. Analysis shows most customers running in a pure Office 365 environment with 49% of respondents. 23% acknowledged they are moving or planning to move to Office 365 with a minority 12% planning to stay in on premise SharePoint. A small 7% portion of environments plan to stay in hybrid, with even more than plan to move out of hybrid as they move to the cloud to 100% Office 365.

As companies adopt Office 365 compliance has never been more important. According to a poll in the recent webinar it was obvious that companies are still early in their adoption of the powerful data loss prevention features, and understood to be even less so for the newly released labels. I expect unified labeling to become even more popular after the labeling features come front and center and get integrated into the Office ribbon.

The by far significant thing to notice in the data, is the fact most companies are just starting with the basics. Is SharePoint still just a web based file share? I’d like to think it’s more than that and it should be your best bet at getting compliance on the files you care about. It’s time. More features are coming to simplify adding labels, but site classifications for sensitivity, and file plans with retention labels need to urgently support regulations and compliance. The collaboration workloads should not be so relaxed. Many organizations have yet to develop a data compliance plan to meet the modern requirements for data privacy and retention.

Microsoft is working to tip the balance. Consider the classification, DLP and labelling features they have rolled out in SharePoint just in the last year or so. From a technology standpoint, implementing data compliance has never been easier. This convergence and wave of regulations with better compliance tools may well make this the moment for companies to adopt data governance and compliance practices.

“Right now Microsoft is fusing content management and compliance – into an ever more streamlined set of tools to keep data compliant, keep knowledge easy to discover and share, and make files easy to retain or remove from SharePoint,” commented Loic Triger, COO Colligo. “Organizations that use the shift to O365 to also implement a smart compliance framework will be the ones that avoid lost productivity and best manage the risk, cost and distraction of data breaches in the next decade. Achieving that though, will also require a focus on tools easy for users.”

The opportunity is to leverage these new features to focus on compliance and as they do so look to SharePoint Add-ins like Colligo to simplify the ability to integrate labeling strategies for files and email in Outlook and Office.

There’s another incentive to address data management head on when shifting to O365. Consider the cost and data loss issues that come from moving massive data to the cloud without addressing classification and retention. Microsoft predicts a data explosion over the next few years, and IT departments are already watching it happen.

Data without labelling or classification is a privacy risk. When there is no classification all data is treated equally as unclassified data, from a data storage perspective it’s no better than a file share except for the fact it’s got eDiscovery and is easier to find, but from a compliance perspective it’s at risk. It’s time to get started. Use this article as a call to action.

Miss the webinar? Check out “SharePoint Data Compliance Made Easy” webinar recording, view the slides or view and download the infographics.

Published by

Joel Oleson

SharePoint and Office 365 MVP Office Apps and Services + RD and Former Microsoft Product Manager at Microsoft and original Architect of the first version of SharePoint Online... Joel is a Technology Evangelist who loves to travel. He lives in Oceanside California. Currently a Free Agent... find me on linked in. He frequently Speaks at conferences, delivers webinars, and helps customers with their strategy and adoption.

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