As a child, I can remember the experience of building a super tall tower out of blocks and stepping back to admire all the hard work – then, one swift tap from a dog’s tail and the whole tower would be destroyed. The building was the hard part and the destruction was easy. Compared with the explosion of data creation today, and the difficulty in destroying information, the dynamic is quite different.
This leads us to one of the most common discussions that I have with my clients around physical and electronic information destruction. And, depending on whom the conversation is with, the nature of the discussion changes from storage cost reduction to minimizing risk to maximizing information value. While people talk a big destruction game, in practice, few execute on it in a formal, structured way. In support of this point, 78% of respondents from the 2014 Cohasset/ARMA/AIIM Benchmark report state that the “keep everything culture” is an impediment to an effective records and information management program. But what is at the root of the keep everything culture? While I have not found a single answer to this question, I do hear some common answers that point to the defensible retention policy and classification of information. Clients regularly tell me “our policy is out of date and our information is not classified” or I hear “our policy is up to date and our information is not classified,” and so on and so forth. I am sure many of you can relate.
Historically, keeping everything has appeared to be the option with the least amount of friction. And, given the relatively low cost of storage, many organizations just deferred the issue. However, with the commonly referenced statistic that 90% of all data in existence today has been created in the past 2 years, along with the highly publicized data breaches and increasing costs of discovery, deferring destruction is no longer an option. Keeping everything poses immeasurable brand, legal and financial risk to organizations and can no longer be the de facto policy. On the flip side, destroying everything may strip an organization of valuable information that could be monetized. Nirvana would be to know what you have, know where it is, and be able to get rid of it at just the right time.
Through improved automation on the information governance front, help is on the way. Addressing the issues around retention policies and information classification, automated solutions are gaining traction and helping organizations improve control over their information. For example, Iron Mountain’s Policy Center/Global Research (PCS/GRS) is a cloud-based solution that uses automation to keep the policy current and has open APIs to deliver the updated policy to the electronic record repositories. By effectively and easily applying governance to the information, organizations are able to reduce costs, manage risks, extract value and defensibly destroy information. The result is that they are able to deliver a “return on information” to the organization. Embracing the automated solutions is helping organizations accelerate their information governance maturity and deliver measurable value to the organization. While getting to the point of destruction will never be as swift and easy as a dog’s tail to a block tower, keeping everything forever will become a practice of the past.
If you will be attending the #AIIM16 conference from April 26 -28th, please come by the Iron Mountain Solution Lounge. I welcome the opportunity to talk to you in more detail about information governance and how automation is helping our clients succeed.