Rethinking the Secure Data Room: This is Not a Feature War

Years ago, when we developed ShareSecure, our secure data room and LP portal, we were tempted to look at other data rooms or portal solutions on the market and just copy all the features they had. It’s natural for a company like ours, which develops leading-edge solutions for alternative investment firms, to focus on being able to say, “Yes!” whenever a prospective customer asks about whether a secure data room has a particular feature or function. 

Fortunately, we made a conscious effort to reject the notion that great software is the result of simply having more features. Instead, we preferred back then to be more thoughtful about what capabilities a particular software product needs—and we still take that approach today.

We continually ask ourselves (and our customers) how a feature (or lack thereof) solves a problem. The result of being very selective about the functionality we add to our secure data room and other products? Solutions that are easier to use, highly efficient, and more effective at producing the desired results. 

Secure Data Rooms and Internet Refrigerators

Careful consideration of the benefits of secure data room features clearly isn’t the norm in our industry. Several competitive products have a feature list as long as your arm. But what we’ve found is that users tend to ignore many of those capabilities, using only those that make sense for their firm.

Consequently, those organizations are paying for functionality that sits idle. And just as importantly, the unused features make their secure data rooms and other systems bigger, bulkier, and more complex than they need to be.

A comparable scenario in the world of consumer products—home appliances, to be specific—was the LG internet TV refrigerator. Back in the early 2000s, this appliance did what standard refrigerators did “and so much more!” It had a 37-centimeter LCD monitor on which you could “watch internet TV!” That is if you had a data connection behind your fridge. And also if watching TV was so important to you that you needed to keep up with your favorite program for the 30 seconds it took you to fill your water glass or grab a snack.

And for the privilege of watching TV standing up in your kitchen, you paid five times as much as you did for a comparable, non-TV-equipped refrigerator. Don’t get us wrong… We love keeping our food from spoiling and we love TV, but, really? 

Secure Data Rooms: Convenience Over Complexity

People in our industry are smart. They could, if necessary, learn how to use the most complex of products. But why require them to do that?

They have specific objectives when they access a secure data room—finding a particular document, watching a specific multimedia presentation, etc. Enabling them to perform a variety of other tasks not only isn’t helpful, but it can also be confusing and a distraction from what they’re trying to accomplish.

That’s why you can’t watch TV or get a glass of crushed ice in ShareSecure!

LPs are busy professionals. We respect the fact that they have lots of demands on their time and give them a secure data room and portal where they can get in, get what they need, and move on to other obligations quickly and efficiently. Complicated tools? Convoluted navigation? You won’t find them in ShareSecure—and our customers surely aren’t looking for them.

Determining the Right Feature Set for a Secure Data Room

Recently we had a call with a prospect who currently uses a competitor’s product. They asked if ShareSecure prevents end-users from taking screenshots. We answered that it does not. We know from experience that preventing screenshots makes sharing documents more difficult, so it’s counterproductive to add that to our feature set.

We braced for some pushback, but instead, the prospect said:  “OK, we have that feature now and we never use it.” Clearly, they were looking for a secure data room solution provider that understands what functionality is relevant—and what functionality is not relevant—to industry stakeholders.

Secure data rooms, in one form or another, have been around for more than 20 years, so the necessary functionality has been pretty thoroughly explored. Advances in technology may enable the development of valuable new features in the future. But the question firms should be asking themselves now isn’t, “What cool new things can this secure data room we’re evaluating do?” but rather, “Can this secure data room we’re evaluating do everything we need it to do and do it well?”

What’s the best way to answer that question? Do some basic research on the secure data room that you’re interested in, then participate in a live demo of the solution. And, when you do, be sure to focus on the system’s ability to deliver results, not on its “bells and whistles”!