Interest in enterprise rights management (ERM) software is increasing as companies work to meet obligations for regulatory compliance, legal risk mitigation and intellectual property protection, according to a report from Forrester Research.
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ERM technology allows organisations to establish and enforce policies regarding who can do what with electronic messages and enterprise content, inside and outside an organisation. Policies can cover, for example, open, copy, share, e-mail, forward or print functions.
ERM can also be used to secure and protect business content such as e-mails, spreadsheets, documents, drawings, models and forms.
ERM is different from digital rights management, which is designed to protect commercial content such as songs and videos.
Companies spent about £16.4m in 2004 on ERM systems, but Forrester predicted this would grow at 20% a year, to reach £27.4m in 2008, with ERM an important part of the workplace. The analyst firm advised companies to evaluate ERM as an experimental but critical technology.
ERM suppliers include Adobe, Authentica, Gigatrust, IBM, Liquid Machine, Microsoft and Sealed Media.
Erica Rugullies, principal analyst at Forrester Research, said companies should look for ERM suppliers that have partnerships with their strategic content management supplier. "An example is EMC/Documentum, which works with Authentica and Sealed Media," she said.
"Look for systems that support ERM standards and fit with enterprise architecture. Look for systems that support the XRML or MPeg REL standards. Standards support will ease interoperability and integration and make it easier to swap out one solution for another, should the need arise.
"Determine whether business requirements involve protection of information sent outside the firewall. Ensure that the ERM suppliers you are considering support these needs without creating additional work for IT when new external users need to be added to the system."
Rugullies also advised firms to assess the impact of ERM on their message archives. "Messages and attachments must be protected throughout their entire lifecycle, from the point of creation through to destruction at the end of its retention period. Some ERM suppliers, such as Authentica, Liquid Machines and Microsoft, have integrated, or are working to integrate, their products with message archiving software," she said.