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The New Year brings fresh starts, and most of us, after a season of giving and receiving parties and celebrations, are feeling the need to take stock and streamline our lives. In the bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, author Marie Kondo’s main tenet in her approach to decluttering is to discard everything that does not “spark joy” after thanking the objects for their service.
Data Managers should take a cue from Ms. Kondo, though it might be difficult for one to define “joy” in this context. From an Information Governance (IG) perspective we might revise “joy” to “relevant.” Bill Piwonka, Chief Marketing Officer at Exterro, says, “The notion that all data will (or could be) useful sometime in the future ignores reality. The term ROT (redundant, obsolete, and trivial) to describe data that could be deleted, properly categorizes data that will offer no value in the future, regardless of new analytic technologies.”
IDC published a report in 2014 that suggested of all the data created in 2013 – 4.4 zettabytes – only 22 percent would have been useful if it had been properly tagged and analyzed (interestingly, only 5 percent of the data actually was properly tagged according to their research). And while they expect this percentage to grow to 37 percent by 2020 – mostly due to data created from devices associated with the Internet of Things – that still leaves 63 percent of data that really isn’t useful.
This is where Information Governance software comes in:
- By identifying sensitive or business-critical information stored throughout your IT infrastructure
- By reducing storage costs by identifying and deleting content that no longer meets your retention policies or preservation obligations
- By reducing costs and security risks by ensuring the right data is stored in the right place
Data security and data breaches are a very real concern for companies, so besides tidying up data storage IG is also an important part of any company’s security strategy. According to Nishad Shevde, Director of Strategic Operations at Exterro, “Many of the same tools that help with file analysis and remediation projects can be leveraged to help with data breach risk mitigation by allowing for the analysis of the documents stored on network data sources that might contain sensitive or valuable data, as well as by letting companies understand precisely which users have access to that information.”
Along with cutting costs and mitigating data risk, IG is a foundational step to having a successful e-discovery process as well. A recent study broke down e-discovery costs by stage in the EDRM, and found that 73 percent of costs happen during document review. Modern software solutions can collapse the EDRM’s linear set of steps so there are more options to cull smaller data sets even faster by quickly identifying important documents, streamlining e-discovery activities, and minimizing data sent to outside review.
Proponents of a “keep everything” strategy might argue that information which today seems trivial may be critical down the road when analyzed within a bigger data set. But as Ms. Kondo says, “It’s interesting how the human mind tries to make sense even out of the nonsensical.” We all harbor the fear that if we get rid of something, we’ll also throw away the inspiration or knowledge that might go with it. And while this may be true sometimes, more likely than not that inspiration and knowledge comes from within the human beings who created the data, and it can be repeated. The novelist, Jack Kerouac, when he was first beginning to write, would burn early drafts after he had written them to teach himself that the only thing contained on the pages were words, and words could simply be rewritten. The stories themselves were always his.
So as you begin the New Year take stock in what gives you joy and cast off those things that don’t. In the same way, develop IG strategies that protect and organize data relevant to your company’s needs, and dump all of the duplicate files, no-longer-used spreadsheets that are out of date, and March Madness brackets that are getting in the way of the matters at hand.
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