Scott Burt, VP of Corporate Solutions
When someone moves to a new home, they typically clean up and dispose of belongings that are no longer useful so that they have fewer things to transport to the new residence.
Companies may want to look at their data in the same context. As more companies move their data to the cloud, they first need to address the digital mounds and haystacks of preexisting data that have accumulated in their file shares.
Employees used to be able keep anything they wanted, name it however they wanted, put it wherever they wanted, and keep it as long as they wanted. “In today’s environment of tightened regulations, litigation, and data breaches, that laissez-faire approach to data carries too many risks and hidden costs.”, according to records management and information governance experts who participated in a webinar hosted by Innovative Discovery on February 24.
Why clean up before modernizing?
The volume of data is growing at an average of about 63% each year while cybersecurity budgets have been increasing by only 10% per year. In addition, privacy regulations have evolved in ways that require companies to know what’s in their data and makes them liable for that information. Therefore, organizations are forced to look at modernization and look at platforms that have the tools and capabilities to respond to today’s cyber-threats and privacy challenges.
About 80% of stored data is ROT (redundant obsolete and trivial data). By reducing ROT, companies can identify information that is most important to their business, protect it better, and boost findability and efficiencies.
How to filter ROT from important data
Having a retention schedule is the easiest way to identify and dispose of ROT.
In addition to reducing the overwhelming volume of data, sticking to a retention schedule and having an embedded tool to eliminate outdated documents help companies avoid unnecessary legal liability. If you still have documents in files, they are discoverable during litigation.
After using the retention period as a filter, whatever is leftover can be analyzed with machine learning or other tools to figure out exactly what is there and start to classify it, getting down to what matters most to your company. In some cases, you’ll need a custodian to look at the documents to determine what to keep or what to delete.
How to motivate buy-in
Executive buy-in is crucial to keeping up momentum for cleanup and modernization. Change management training can help executives and other employees see the value in the task.
If you can quantify the problem in some way, you are more likely to win buy-in. For instance, at one organization, employees were wasting an average of 30 minutes per day looking for information they needed to do their jobs. With a few calculations, executives got a picture of how much the inefficiencies caused by poor data management were costing them.
Start small by picking a department or subdirectory on a file share where you can begin the process. Every process will be different depending on the organization. Don’t let perfection get in the way. Once you start and are able to show value at every stage of the process, buy-in will grow accordingly.
For some companies, it may take the pain of going through a lawsuit or regulatory audit to realize the value of cleaning up and organizing data. Being proactive can help avoid those kinds of experiences and yield some success that can help you better protect your most important data while relieving you of the burden of ROT.