North Highland

Centralized content, better governance, happier teams

PROBLEM

Unsanctioned tools used by scattered mobile employees, a lack of governance over widely dispersed content, and the constant threat of a compliance breach made the job of North Highland’s IT team incredibly stressful. More importantly, it hindered collaboration company-wide.

 

SOLUTION

By consolidating all company content on Box, IT was able to get a better handle on content governance and re-train global employees to collaborate in secure, governable ways. The Marketing team, for one, is able to securely collaborate with external stakeholders on large design files. And built-in legal holds allow North Highland to keep files locked in place around compliance parameters, without compromising employee workflow.  

 

OUTCOME

With critical content centralized in Box, North Highland improved collaboration cycles for every department. At the same time, the company solved shadow IT risks, eliminated the risk of accidental compliance violations, and put smart retention policies in place that could be managed with confidence.

According to a recent study by SkyHigh Networks, a medium-to-large business uses anywhere between 300 to 400 cloud applications and up to 60 different file-sharing solutions just to get everyday work done. And 90% of those apps are used without IT's knowledge.

Shadow IT, the use of consumer tools without proper IT approval, is a worrisome trend for any organization. Businesses waste money on appropriate tools that are cast aside as workers choose their own consumer solutions, often riddled with security concerns. IT lacks appropriate control over content storage and access, leaving systems vulnerable to data breaches and hacks.

North Highland, a global consulting company with more than 3,000 employees dispersed across 60 countries, works with clients across a variety of highly regulated industries. After SkyHigh Networks audited its tech stack, North Highland discovered 600+ employees were using consumer-grade solutions like Dropbox. With strict compliance requirements for sensitive data, the company needed to tackle its shadow IT problem immediately.  

North Highland

 

From unsanctioned tools to satisfying solutions

As a first step, Falor and his team identified the problem tools and communicated to employees that these solutions lacked security and support and shouldn’t be used. Falor and his team set out to find a better content platform that would satisfy the habits and needs of a variety of users while still meeting security and compliance requirements.

For example, North Highland's Marketing team needed the ability to quickly and securely share very large design files with stakeholders outside the organization. Email was not an appropriate, secure, or, frankly, efficient way to do this. With Dropbox and SharePoint, it simply wasn’t possible to give the Marketing team the ability to share files but still control who could view the information and protect sensitive documents with watermarking. And North Highland had to worry about compliance violations with improperly shared content.

 Eventually, Falor turned to Box. Tuning into the Cloud Content Management solution Box provides solved the shadow IT and external collaboration problems in ways Falor hadn’t even anticipated. Like most consulting companies, 80% of North Highland's workforce is remote. With client firewalls, system configurations, and consultants using client laptops instead of North Highland equipment, collaboration was frequently stymied when content was housed in on-prem servers. 

 “Box helped us improve connectivity between those groups and made collaboration actually a possibility," exclaims Falor. "It also removed some of the risk associated with storing information on old team sites that would have to open up permissions more than they were comfortable doing.”

Streamlined data in one central place

Consolidating content on one single platform had another ramification for North Highland: the IT team was confronted with just how much data they’d been hoarding. “We had tons and tons and tons of data," remarks Falor. "As we started going through it, we realized a lot of it was stale, or there were inconsistent versions, or 50 people had the same document with little tweaks or older copies.”

With Box, North Highland was able to de-dupe the content library and improve collaboration and version control of documents and data. The true importance of the company’s data — and how they store and use it — became very clear. "Now we’re able to figure out what data actually matters,” Falor explains. “We're also rethinking how we establish a common taxonomy for labeling and classifying documents."

 

tablet

As part of the content simplification process, Falor and his team reclaimed more expensive enterprise storage, repurposed it for other suitable needs, and retired legacy solutions that were no longer useful. He notes: “In an ideal world, we are going to take advantage of the unlimited storage that Box provides and start retiring some of those services, or at a minimum, archive it to less expensive services or storage targets.”

 

"You can tell Box is moving in the right direction because its technologies are purpose-built and purpose-driven. You don’t find that in the legacy technologies or companies who are just adapting."

Paul Falor, CIO, North Highland

 

The boost of better governance

During his research into Cloud Content Management with Box, Falor realized that Box Governance would allow North Highland to prevent incredibly costly accidental compliance violations. “Box Governance provides a nice basic DLP (data loss prevention) solution,” he says. “It allows us to whitelist and blacklist domains, which is incredibly helpful from a collaboration standpoint. In addition, legal holds and document retention can help us convert more of our file servers.”

 

Laptops

In the compliance-dependent industries the company works across, legal holds allow North Highland to keep files locked in place so that they can't be deleted or modified, without changing anything in the employee's workflow. Document retention enforces pre-defined retention and disposition rules to prevent under- and over-retention of information, which can lead to compliance failures or increased liabilities. 

 

Simplified, enabled content across the org

Most importantly, Falor and his team can now rest assured that unsanctioned tools and apps won’t get in the way of productive collaboration and security at North Highland. And knowing that Box is not just a content platform, but a Cloud Content Management partner, with countless integrations, including Office 365 and Okta, at its disposal, means North Highland will be able to work with Box to accomplish future collaboration and content workflow goals.