Manufacturing: 5 Top Factors to Consider When You Select Enterprise DRM

Protect CAD drawingsThe rising wave of industrial espionage and intellectual property theft has manufacturers on edge. Are you tasked with finding the right Enterprise Digital Rights Management (EDRM) solution for your company?

Check out these five tips from IP protection experts in manufacturing. 


Are you looking into EDRM solutions to ramp up your organization’s IP protection?  Congratulations, buckle up and hold on for the ride. 

Because this is mission-critical to your company’s future, it’s only natural that you feel the pressure to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s. The tips below will help you zoom in on the essentials quickly. The good news is that you’re not alone.  Due to the recent surge in IP theft cases in the automotive industry, defense, and aerospace, or other tech sectors, the heat is on for manufacturers.  US and EU authorities are urging companies to ramp up their IP protection.

The response on the ground has been slow, but as an industry insider, you already know: it’s not for lack of threat awareness anymore.  Most have read the memo: 

  • We know who’s behind it.  In more than 1,000 IP theft cases worked by the FBI in 2020, federal agencies found a connection with China.  Officials warn that China’s theft of trade secrets costs the US almost $500 billion a year.
  • We also know who does most of the actual stealing or often unintentionally facilitates it: insiders.  Manufacturing companies suffered more incidents attributed to malicious or negligent employees or contractors than any other industry except the healthcare sector (Verizon 2020 Data Breach investigations Report).
  • The question many manufacturers keep grappling with: How to effectively stop IP theft without putting the brakes on workflows and productivity?

Most acknowledge that (E)DRM, also referred to as Information Rights Management (IRM), holds the key to IP protection.  It enables companies to encrypt and keep tabs on their unstructured data, such as text documents, spreadsheets, images, or CAD/CAE files.

EDRM’s main advantage is its file-centric approach.  This model lets organizations safeguard the information itself, at rest, in transit, or use, rather than relying on – often unreliable – perimeter and device security. 

That’s the theory.  What about the practice?


How to Find a Manufacturing EDRM Solution That Supports Your Workflow

It’s the trenches of IP protection where things get murky.  The differences between various EDRM solutions even in the same field could not be starker.

The EDRM field is void of standards.  Many products are plagued by performance issues at scale.

Another problem is that even some larger EDRM vendors struggle to keep pace with application and document format updates, which renders their software ineffective and leaves their customers vulnerable to exploitation. 

In practice, this means that many EDRM offerings keep adding to the category’s historical reputation of being complex to deploy and manage.  That compounds the pressure on those tasked with identifying and evaluating EDRM software for their organization.

Protect manufacturing IP using Fasoo Enterprise DRM
In manufacturing, you’ll find plenty of EDRM vendors to choose from.  The downside: IT leaders and EDRM project managers tasked with evaluating, comparing, or upgrading an existing digital rights management package have to pick their way through a crowded field.

The offerings range from specialized niche packages for engineering studios to information protection modules tacked on by software giants to support their proprietary document ecosystems. 


Balance Between Security and Productivity is Key

Some boast only a few brand name deployments.  Others may have a broad installed base across various verticals. 

Fasoo Enterprise DRM, for example, is known for its ability to secure information across global organizations without compromising performance.  Our flagship installation serves more than 170,000 internal users and more than 700,000 users at the customer’s affiliates and partners worldwide.

Our customers in the manufacturing sector tell us the main challenge for them was finding a future-proof ERDM solution that strikes the right balance between IP protection and productivity. 

What do you have to look for in EDRM to ensure it will facilitate your company’s particular information workflow, without putting disproportional strains on IT and budgets? 

With the recent shift to remote work, finding the answer has become more urgent, likely in your organization as well.  How can manufacturers secure, control, and track sensitive information accessed by employees from their work-from-home WiFi networks? 

Which EDRM system can guarantee maximum IP protection and interoperability with the broadest range of applications and document formats used in your company and its digital supply chain?


5 Tips on How to Choose Enterprise DRM in Manufacturing

We asked our customers and other conversation partners in the manufacturing sector what IT leaders and program managers should keep in mind when selecting EDRM. They shared valuable tips that can help you save time and avoid costly mistakes:


1.  Ensure that your EDRM provides full support for the broadest range of CAD/CAE applications and CAD file formats possible.

Why? Because the digital blueprints, design files, and computer-aided manufacturing instructions hold your company’s most valuable intellectual property and the keys to its future.  While your company’s design or engineering team may only use two or three of these tools, this can change tomorrow due to an acquisition or outsourcing partnership. 

Yes, out-of-the-box EDRM support for file formats rendered by Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, business graphics applications, Geographic Information System (GIS), and software development tools is essential, too.  As a rule of thumb, the EDRM system should support the 200 most common file formats at a minimum.

Yet, it’s the range of relevant CAD file formats the EDRM system can protect, control, and track that makes it viable and future-safe for deployment in manufacturing.  In the automotive sector, for example, this means support for applications such as AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, PTC Creo, CATIA, NX-CAD, and SolidWorks, to name a few.


2.  Make EDRM exception management easy and straightforward.

If it holds things up and puts additional burdens on the data owner or IT, it will not serve your company well.

Many manufacturers have engineers working from home and plan to bring on new team members even during the pandemic that will need to get up to speed fast.  IT has its hands full with accommodating and securing remote work.

Does the EDRM software under evaluation require team members to file a ticket with support and hope for the best each time they need access to a document that’s necessary to get the job done?

Expect additional burdens on IT and productivity slowdowns.  Plus, beware of users finding “creative” shortcuts (like sharing access credentials for an account with higher privileges) that put your IP at more risk than it was before.


3. Centralized policy management = better IP protection

If EDRM requires data owners to become security experts and check a confusing list of boxes without fully grasping what they mean and the implications, overall security suffers.  A centralized EDRM security policy management that plays nice with all leading federated authentication systems ensures maximum protection with minimum disruption.

This way, EDRM improves oversight, ensures smooth workflow changes, employee moves to other departments or roles, and onboarding/offboarding.  It minimizes the risk of sensitive information left open to access by employees who have left the company. 


4.  Ask (if applicable): Can the EDRM deploy self-contained on-premise?

SaaS is great but doesn’t always make sense for manufacturing companies who have to protect their investments in ERP and on-premise document systems.  If yours is one of them, make sure the EDRM package you pick can fit right in with your IT environment.


5. Select an EDRM solution that supports any backend infrastructure.

In a sector known for its prolonged backend IT lifecycles, the enterprise DRM software you select should be ready for seamless integration with your existing backend IT infrastructure – and prepared for changes that may incorporate the cloud and SaaS.


These five tips for DRM considerations in the manufacturing enterprise should enable you to speed up the selection process and find the most effective and efficient digital rights management software to keep your company’s sensitive information safe. 

Intellectual property theft is costing America’s manufacturing companies billions of dollars.  To provide appropriate IP protection and prevent your organization from becoming just another FBI statistic, the EDRM tools you choose for your fast-changing manufacturing environment need to ensure maximum IP protection without making productivity suffer.

To be effective, the new EDRM package should support all relevant CAD/CAE tools, workflows, and IT infrastructure, now and in the future.

Want to find out more?  Read in this case study why an international automotive parts manufacturer selected Fasoo Enterprise DRM [PDF] to protect its designs and process information for conventional and autonomous vehicles.

For further information, contact our team here. 

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