Adobe Acrobat drives secure information exchange in just 3 clicks

Digital system for transferring documents.

Image credit: Adobe Stock/Miha Creative.

The financial services industry is one of the most demanding in terms of both competition and regulation. Financial services CIOs and IT executives are highly focused on ensuring technology both serves and protects their core business. For information security and protection, nowhere is this more vital than in the daily exchange of information between and amongst employees and partners.

Safeguarding exchanges requires constant vigilance and strict security measures. With the complexity of new hybrid work environments, balancing control with ease of use and enabling productivity means securely ensuring access to the right information at the right time.

While this sounds simple, 85 percent of organizations do not feel confident they can detect and prevent loss of sensitive data. This staggering fact drove Microsoft, as they designed their information protection solutions, to enable discovery and understanding of an organization’s data as well as provide easy data classification, labeling and protection.

Sturbridge Capital’s story

Sturbrige Capital is a niche private equity firm with over $400 million in assets under management, that, in 2020, brought in 40-year auto industry IT-veteran, David Poirier. Well aware of the constantly growing threat landscape, Poirier made it a top priority to improve their protection against improper sharing, storing and printing of documents.

Working closely with Microsoft Reseller and IT services provider, Massive IT, Poirier was quick to identify and recommend that the company move forward with Microsoft’s information protection solution due to their market leadership, convenience, flexibility, and extensibility. Microsoft Purview Information Protection enables users to easily label documents directly inside the Microsoft suite, such as M365, SharePoint and OneDrive, making it convenient and easy for users while providing the stringent protection the financial industry demands.

One step forward, yet challenges remained

Sturbridge Capital was able to rapidly get up and running, but was quickly confronted with the fact partners were required to have the appropriate Microsoft plug-ins installed. This involved a partner’s IT department getting involved and feedback started coming in about the sheer challenge of deploying these free plug-ins due to competing priorities and limited resources. The result was that users who received documents from Sturbridge Capital were unable to open them.

Another challenge arose due to the fact that while many sensitive documents were being created in Microsoft products, almost all sharing and collaboration occurred using PDFs. Employees regularly use Adobe Acrobat for PDFs, leveraging it to protect data and documents internally, as well as with external partners. However, applying the Microsoft Purview protection capabilities to a PDF wasn’t easy and convenient, and therefore wasn’t consistently happening.

According to Microsoft, PDFs are the most common file types stored in business SharePoint and OneDrive systems. Many times these PDFs also contain sensitive information.

This initial solution requiring a plug-in had an approximately 80 percent failure rate due to “the difficulty in getting IT departments to move” and the challenging user experience. The bottom line was that the technology just wasn’t ubiquitous enough… yet.

Enter Adobe

Poirier became aware of the fact that Adobe was going to be releasing Microsoft Purview information labeling for PDFs via Adobe Acrobat. He quickly learned that this would be a fully integrated package that is part of Acrobat Pro, Acrobat Standard, and the free Acrobat Reader applications, enabling the compliance solution with no additional effort by partner organizations.

Graph of a PDF.

Poirier saw the ubiquitous capability to accept and protect PDFs as a huge step forward.

With Microsoft & Adobe, our document protection has gone from low to almost infinity. Life is simple and easy for everyone and it just works.

You know it is really really really good when users find it easy to do and aren’t aware of the complexity executed behind the scenes.

David Poirier, VP operations and IT

A new day for information protection

With the Acrobat solution in place, Sturbridge Capital’s employees were able to apply protection easily and quickly — as easy as 3 clicks. This helped immediately eliminate risk across the hybrid work environment. And one of the biggest wins was in the exchange of information externally. Partners no longer needed to do anything special except use the tools they were already using, open and read the protected documents. Microsoft Purview takes care of the rest.

Another big win is that no matter where the document is stored — in your company’s files, a partner’s files, a shared drive or a cloud drive — they remain controlled by the Information Protection system for all time.

The combined power of Microsoft Purview and Adobe Acrobat’s omnipresence has ensured that the solution has been readily adopted and embraced, solidly placing this project into the win column. And that is something to crow about. As Poirier puts it, “As a small and nimble company, we were able to adopt it at our scale, affordably deploying and configuring the solution and quickly exceeding adoption goals. That speaks to just how well it is done”.

Sturbridge Capital is serving up better experiences for employees and partners and can rest assured their information is protected and safeguarded.. Microsoft and Adobe’s continuing innovation and combined PDF solution is Sturbridge Capital’s enabler for secure information exchange and retention.

“It is not about the technology; it is about the adoption. It is easy and convenient for our users while providing the stringent protections demanded by customers and financial industry regulations.”

David Poirier, VP operations and IT