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The Best Way to Review Chat Data for Communication Surveillance

When the pandemic hit in 2020, the percentage of US employees working from home doubled within three weeks—jumping from 31 percent to 62 percent—according to a Gallup poll. By September 2020, another poll indicated as much as 58 percent of the workforce was still working remotely part- or full-time.

With so much of the workforce distributed away from their colleagues in the day-to-day, applications like Slack, Bloomberg Chat, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams have never been more useful. What was once a spontaneous, desk-side conversation is now a virtual engagement that might move from email to Slack to Zoom as coworkers suss out the details of a collaborative project.

For financial services and other highly regulated industries, this didn’t just mean an increase in new channels, but an increase in communication volumes that compliance officers needed to review.

It’s typical for surveillance teams to monitor and review email as part of their communication surveillance program. And while emails are fairly straightforward, chat data is where things get complicated.

Challenges of Monitoring Chat Data

There are many moving parts in any given chat; multiple participants (who may have various aliases or usernames across different tools), their messages, attachments to those messages, reactions to them, notifications of when certain participants enter or leave the discussion. Each conversation has a variety of these components that may be highly relevant to its implications on employee conduct.

But without the right tool for reviewing such data, compliance officers may be missing the nuances—and thus missing the mark when it comes to making informed decisions about whether misconduct is occurring.

In the surveillance industry, much of the current surveillance technology is built around email. That makes sense, considering that this communication vehicle has historically been where the bulk of documented employee communications occurred. But times have changed, and the way many tools display chat data in an email format makes it difficult for compliance teams to read through and identify those unique components of each conversation.

Perhaps even more important: Not only is the visual format this type of data different, but identifying risk in chat is different, too. People speak differently in chat settings than they might in an email, using lingo, slang, abbreviations, emojis, and more—adding layers of nuance and intention that can color the conversation in important ways.

These chats also happen in greater length and with greater frequency than many email threads, creating a never-ending string of communications that could be days or weeks long. This can be dreadful for compliance teams who already have an abundance of alerts to review.

Making Chat Review Simple

How can surveillance teams sift through these conversations to quickly identify the most risky content?

As it turns out, the first step is pretty intuitive: What if you could simplify the way you monitor and review this data by viewing it in a native-looking format?

These conversations are perfectly readable when they’re presented in their proper form. The nuances become natural and much easier to follow. So instead of treating them like emails, make sure you’re using software that gives them their own treatment and makes them easy to follow in a review context.

Additionally, the ability to identify people in a conversation by honing in on participants is crucial. Interactive filtering capabilities will allow you to remove disclaimers, hide specific participants, filter by time, or jump to specific alerts so that compliance teams can focus on what matters most to their organization and quickly identify acts of misconduct. Features like these are essential for ensuring your team can move through alerts quickly, even when volumes are high, and minimize or quickly eliminate any false positives flagged by your systems.

One software option, if you’re looking for a solution that increases efficiency by offering a simplified and intuitive review process for communication surveillance teams, is Relativity Trace. Trace displays chats in one reviewable format that allows compliance teams to visualize how conversations unfold. You can also hover over a username for a given participant in a chat to get all the information you need at a glance, and normalize their identity across other data types. Plus, a new integration with VerQu’s data management software allows compliance teams to pinpoint risk faster and save time by reducing the number of messages they need to review.

To learn more, please take a look at our 45-minute, on-demand webinar to learn how the latest tech revolutionizes the way surveillance teams handle chat data.

Listen in on this Webinar to Learn About Managing Chat Data in Surveillance Workflows

Erika Sperekas is a product marketing specialist for Trace at Relativity.