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How MirrorWeb Evolves with Demand

Sean Stapleton

Being adaptable in an ever-changing climate is always the biggest challenge in communications surveillance.

With compliance and digital preservation, customer requests could emerge as a result of expanding regulations, new methods of communication, or, in the case of larger clients, ambitious scale which requires creative thinking.  

The truth is that there are a multitude of reasons why firms may benefit from a tailored approach. Compliance is notoriously not a one-size-fits-all industry, and so these suggestions barely scratch the surface.

When it comes to adaptability, we like to practice what we preach. This blog will look at MirrorWeb’s journey as a company, and how that trajectory has enabled us to be agile and reactive to a challenging regulatory landscape.  

The early years

While the MirrorWeb platform now captures all digital communications, our original focus was website archiving.

Our first large scale client was the UK National Archives, a contract which was awarded to MirrorWeb following a public tender process in 2016. At this point the National Archives had worked with their incumbent provider for 20 years. Their capture and replay requirements had evolved, along with the complexity and volume of published content – increasingly sophisticated websites and every social media and YouTube post the government had ever shared over a 20-year period.

The scale of this progression meant that technological innovation was required, something which MirrorWeb was able to demonstrate.

Our technology  

MirrorWeb tackles archiving as technologists rather than archivists, which has always been our differentiator. Our industry-leading crawling technology is developed in-house, meaning that we’re able to capture complex sites that are JavaScript heavy, for example. We capture the most dynamic website content on the market, and we do so in less time and at a higher quality.  

Crucially, we are cloud-native. We built our business with scalability in mind, and don’t need to worry about maintaining physical servers. Cloud infrastructure allows us to increase our scale as we need to, and to operate in a more energy-efficient manner than would otherwise be possible. We only pay for the usage that we require with our cloud provider, and don’t need to maintain under-utilized servers, thereby reducing our carbon footprint.  

Our technology is modern, with no legacy code or technical debt ingrained in the system; we built a cloud-native service on a clean slate. This ensures that we are nimble and able to react quickly to the transitory world of regulatory compliance, and to ever-evolving consumer habits and demands.

Starting at the deep end  

As well as adapting to a new level of scale, the National Archives project saw us enter the arena of social media archiving. Thankfully, this came quite easily due to our mastery of website capture.

Anyone can create a website however they choose. There are no enforced standards to adhere to (although guidance and recommendations are available), and the various technologies that developers use to deliver sites add to that complexity.  We commonly refer to this as “unstructured data”. MirrorWeb had already built technology capable of handling an extensive and intricate array of mechanisms, to an industry-leading standard.

With other channels (email, social media platforms, communications channels), data is stored in a more prescribed format, referred to as “structured data”. The information is structured more clearly - usually in JSON format - to a prescribed standard, and so capturing it is comparatively trivial.  

Customer-led innovation

One example of a recent development in the evolving compliance space is change reporting. This is important for Compliance and Legal teams when they receive specific page requests from regulators, as it allows them to quickly compare site content across two dates.  

When our clients started to request this functionality, we thought about how we could really push the capabilities beyond what was already out there. We’ve since developed what we consider the definitive tool. Our Archive Compare feature offers multiple modes (text, visual) which overlay the web content in such a way that changes immediately become apparent.  

Users can access Archive Compare from their daily web capture, or launch a comparison from within the replay itself. The ability to access Archive Compare through different pathways really helps to streamline the user workflow, which is the overarching goal for most of our innovation.

In 2023 we launched our communications surveillance platform, MirrorWeb Insight. Our Design Partner program ensured our customers were at the heart of the product development process. This has enabled us to iterate on customer requests to refine our platform, and had a significant impact on Insight’s feature set, from mobile threading to privileged and marketing addresses.

Laying the groundwork  

We’re proud to work with some of the largest organizations in the world across financial services and the public sector. The demands from clients of this stature are complex and highly specific, with varying preferences and unique circumstances dictating the overall service that we provide.

Before getting started, we’re meticulous in our preparation. We spend a lot of time familiarizing ourselves with the client’s infrastructure before drawing up a plan that will work most efficiently without causing any disruption to their technology. This gives us an opportunity to work alongside their technical teams, initiating an open dialogue which enables recommendations and guidance throughout the onboarding process.

We take pride in being a polite supplier, making sure that we're not compromising the efficient running of our clients’ systems by doing what we do.  

Creative solutions

MirrorWeb’s technical proficiency has led to us assisting clients beyond what you might typically expect from a communications surveillance vendor.

We created custom-built hardware to facilitate an enormous data ingest for one of our public sector clients. For another, we reimagined their quality assurance process, enabling them to broaden their scope and include sites that they’d never had the ability or budget to consider capturing before. This allowed them to expand their archiving team, to handle the extra throughput.

We’ve engaged in research projects, acting as a key technical supplier and enabling the research taking place worldwide to be collated and analyzed.

Our unique experience and technical prowess ensure that we are specialists in our field. If we can use that expertise to our clients’ advantage, we will.

Despite our technology-first approach, we actively hire archiving experts to help us along our journey. Varied perspectives are beneficial within any organization, and that passion for the pure art of preservation complements our technical expertise and lateral thinking perfectly.  

How MirrorWeb can help your business

Every company has their own story to tell, with the scenarios they encounter shaping their own singular evolution.  

MirrorWeb’s journey is thoroughly unconventional. We’re a US-based firm that was borne in the UK before expanding Stateside to meet our market more effectively. The clue is in the name with regards the original vision: mirror websites that are experiencing downtime, so that a seamless user experience is still offered to visitors.  

Our detour into compliance and digital preservation services has been an organic one, based on our abilities and strong market demand across regulated industries and the public sector. Our reputation as the best web archivist on the market validated our capabilities, and we now capture every communications channel out there. We also react quickly when new avenues emerge.

We set ourselves up effectively by future-proofing our business through cloud infrastructure. This has enabled us to scale seamlessly, and we now work with some of the leading financial and public sector organizations in the world. The level of data security in AWS, our cloud supplier, is vital to these relationships, from carefully selected data center sites to the backup of critical system components. AWS also adheres to a strict Business Continuity Plan, simulating damaging scenarios to minimize or avoid any impact in the event of real environmental disruption.

We have shown adaptability along every step of our journey. With technology and the regulations governing it perpetually evolving, our flexibility and proactivity have enabled us to stand out and continue attracting prominent global institutions.

Despite this, we’ve remained studious, inquisitive, and highly creative. We approach digital archiving differently, and we love solving problems above all else. MirrorWeb customers deserve our attention, they deserve our expertise, and they deserve our refusal to put square pegs in round holes.

If your business could benefit from our hands-on approach, book a demo above. We’d love to hear from you!

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