CASE STUDY

Information rights management secures Asian Paints’ critical data

Dhwani Pandya, Principal Correspondent

Knowledge sharing, information exchange, and collaboration have now become the most critical business requirements in the globalised organizations. However, ensuring information security during such collaborations has become a major issue for enterprises. India’s leading color and paints company Asian Paints faced a similar dilemma.

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In 2008, Asian Paints felt the need to introduce document security for the research and development (R&D) department to protect its intellectual property (IP). Asian Paints’ R&D department published and shared several whitepapers for internal use. It was impossible to monitor how many times these physical copies were accessed, copied or forwarded. “Although our R&D department was open to the idea of digitizing these documents, it feared that the soft copies would be easier to share, copy or edit,” remarks Maulik Desai, Senior Manager at Asian Paints. This impelled the company to deploy an information rights management solution, which could protect its documents with granular rights.

At the same time Asian Paints was evaluating solutions for information management to handle structured as well as large amount of unstructured information lying on people’s desktops. It would be imperative that any information rights management solution goes hand in hand with a centralized document management solution (DMS).

Evaluation criteria

Asian Paints evaluated three products — FileSecure from Seclore, Microsoft’s Information Rights Management and EMC’s Documentum Content Management solutions. The solution from Microsoft provided protection only for Microsoft Office documents, while EMC offered a DMS with a rights protection feature.

They were looking for an information rights management solution that could be easily integrated with any DMS and active directory. Other evaluation criteria included providing offline user access, as well as the vendor’s domain expertise. After much deliberation, Asian Paints decided to opt for the information rights management solution from Seclore. “Among all the evaluated solutions, FileSecure provided us with maximum flexibility and integration capabilities,” notes Desai.

Implementation and workflow

Asian Paints initially acquired a limited user licenses and the software deployment took two weeks. However, it took time to integrate the information rights management solution with Asian Paints’ DMS. While there were instances where the users wanted to manage the rights on a document, Asian Paints was convinced that the information rights management tool could be used most effectively when integrated with the existing DMS. “We felt that if you leave it to an individual to protect the documents on an ongoing basis, it will become user dependent and may loose its rigor. It was critical to create a central repository, where there will be credentials and security will be ensured in the workflow by default,” explains Desai.

Seclore's FileSecure solution enables enterprises to retain control over the usage of a document even after it's shared. This information rights management solution helps an organization control the copy, print, edit and forward rights on any kind of document. It also helps an organization create granular rights for controlling the document with features like who, what, when and where. The information rights management solution supports over 115 document formats, including Microsoft Office, Open Office, image- and text-based formats.

Asian Paints has tie-ups with several industrial customers that provide coating services. The company has exclusive agreements and intricate commercials. Information about these contracts needs to be protected, as its leakage could result in serious business loss. The company has saved all such agreements on its DMS repository and ensures blanket security through the information rights management tool. Only the central legal team and specified business managers have access to this information on a need-to-know basis. 

Although overall implementation of the information rights management tool was smooth, Asian Paints faced certain issues while deploying the client on desktops and integrating the solution with multiple DMS software. Although internally, the company managed the deployment of Seclore client on user desktops, it was difficult to ensure it for external users. Seclore helped Asian Paints integrate the information rights management tool with the DMS.

 Boost in user confidence

According to Desai, Asian Paints has seen significant increase in user confidence while sharing critical documents within as well as outside the organization. The information rights management journey and experience is precisely summed up by  Harish Lade, General Manager IT at Asian Paint “We now have a comprehensive view on how information assets can be protected even while they are not within our own virtual boundaries. Seclore's API enabled open architecture and intuitive user experience allows Asian Paints to leverage the solution in a wide array of document management scenarios.”

Going ahead, Asian Paints may also adopt an enterprise scale license of the information rights management solution, where every user will get the right to protect his documents.