Companies look for merger & acquisitions opportunities to boost their growth.  But when confidential information gets exposed, it throws a monkeywrench into their confidential assessments, strategies and negotiations.  Recent news proves this once again.  Whether Twitter would be a good fit for SalesForce is a question – but that the news that Salesforce was considering it leaked into the public domain made their decisions harder.


Once again – while documents drive deals, vanilla email muddies the waters. Confidential documents distributed via email have few controls. Items can be downloaded, copied, forwarded, or unauthorized users added to the thread. Leaks can impact markets, stock value, and invite external investigations. Firms that are serious about protecting this confidential data – which can turn toxic in the wrong hands – must focus on more secure document sharing practices.That’s why firms who see M&A as key to their growth strategies must have secure deal room solutions to give them the needed confidentiality for their assessments and negotiations.


Over the summer, I’ve been researching the market and typical use cases for secure deal room offerings. I’ve interviewed a number of “pure-play” providers, many of whom focus on the traditional merger and acquisition (M&A) virtual data room space. These same vendors are also adapting their solutions to address scenarios such as procurement, fund raising, board of directors or executive committee agenda management. We are also seeing new players addressing this strategic business need, often coming from the enterprise-focused secure file sharing, document collaboration, or enterprise content management markets.


Expect my report – “Confidently Conduct Business-To-Business Negotiations with Secure Deal Rooms” to be out within the next couple of weeks.


My recommendation to business strategists in firms is to close the gap that generic email opens. Look at secure document workspace or file sharing platforms with:

  • Rights management and secure viewing. Granular rights in these tools enforce view-only mode – even for senior executives or advisors. Secure viewing on tablet or mobile devices allows information to be consumed without incurring risk of inadvertent download, copy and subsequent distribution. Expiration dates on shared content make sure months old files are inaccessible.

  • Watermarking. Files that are opened will be stamped with date/time and the IP address or user ID of the reader. Unauthorized screenshots or photos will reveal who had the document open in an inappropriate location.

  • File synchronization – not copying. Updated versions can be automatically pushed out authorized readers, but mobile protection capabilities allow the scrubbing of the device if lost or stolen, keeping sensitive data out of the wrong hands.

  • Audit trails and activity tracking. Know who has read a file and what they’ve done with it.

  • And – most important – a user interface that execs will be comfortable with. A good user experience is itself a security feature. Clunky, outdated user interfaces or poor mobile apps will tempt executives to revert to email when exchanging documents, or use unsanctioned file sharing tools. When users don’t try to skirt the system, security controls work.

Forrester customers who have questions about the secure deal room or virtual data room space, or are wondering if their file-sharing platform has the right mix of governance to be used in this scenario are invited to set up an inquiry.