5 Unexpected Risks of a Data Migration—And How to Mitigate Them

Posted 24 October 2017 12:00 PM by Fahad Muhammad

Whether you’re in the market for a data migration due to a digital transformation project, a physical move, or another critical business event, it’s important to be aware of some of the hidden risks associated with a project of this scale.

Although data migration might seem like a relatively straightforward process, the sheer volume of documents that most companies have—and the amount of unstructured data within those documents—can lead to a migration project that’s more time- and resource-intensive than expected.

Here are five of the most common challenges and risks that can occur during a migration, with strategies to help reduce their costs.

1. The metadata in your content can degrade

Unfortunately, many migration projects imply a risk of data loss, particularly when content is unstructured to begin with. Many organizations accept metadata loss within their documents as an inevitable part of the data migration process, while others often aren’t even aware of this issue.

The solution: You don’t have to lose valuable metadata while you’re migrating your documents, nor do you need to have your employees retag everything manually. By implementing a solution that enhances and personalizes your documents through the migration process, you’ll gain valuable context rather than losing it.

2. Hyperlinks in your documents can stop working

In an increasingly digitized world, losing the hyperlinks that connect your documents can cause a multitude of risks. If your documents are moved to different locations during your migration, however, these links can be broken—and there’s no way to get them back.

The solution: Implementing a link-mapping system is a possible stopgap, but it isn’t a perfect answer. To keep all your hyperlinks safe, make sure you’re using a solution that allows you to quantify and redirect them, regardless of how you choose to organize your data following migration.

3. The content you’re migrating has no value

Migrating your content without knowing what’s in it first is like moving into a new house without cleaning out your old closet—you’ll just end up bringing a lot of useless items over with you (like that tacky holiday sweater from your great-aunt Selma). If you just lift and shift your entire digital repository, your data migration will take much longer, and you’ll face more difficulties along the way.

The solution: By cleaning and standardizing your content first, you can discern which information is worth migrating and what’s better left behind (like those embarrassing office party photos from 2004). That way, you’ll save time and reduce storage costs.

4. You don’t know which version of a document you need—so you migrate all of them

This challenge can arise if you’re migrating multiple versions of the same document without knowing which one you need. This is particularly difficult if some of your content is paper-based, since comparing digital and paper-based versions is like comparing apples to kumquats.

If you were migrating just one or two documents, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But when you’re moving thousands—even millions—of files, data duplication becomes problematic. Migrating redundant, obsolete, and trivial (ROT) data slows down your migration project, clouds critical decision-making, and contributes to rising costs (since employees will waste so much time searching for or recreating content).

The solution: Rather than lifting and shifting all of your documents indiscriminately, it’s crucial to clean, standardize and classify your content before it moves to its new home.

5. You need to store sensitive content differently—but you don’t know where it is

If your industry has recently undergone regulatory changes—or if you’re just trying to migrate your content as safely as possible—it’s vital to ensure that sensitive and confidential information is kept safe. But how can you secure sensitive information if you’re not even sure where it’s located amidst all your other files?

The solution:To reduce organizational risk, ensure that sensitive documents are properly classified before migration by redacting confidential information. This is particularly important for organizations that operate in highly regulated industries, such as health services and financial firms.

Future-Proofing Your Data

If you’ve already migrated your content and are experiencing some of these issues, don’t despair; it’s still possible to extract more value from your data without causing operational headaches. After all, what’s the alternative? By stemming the tide of unstructured content, you’ll save time and reduce costs in the long run.

Now, go forth and migrate. Your future self will thank you.

Not sure which content should be futurized and what should be deleted once and for all? Take our One-Minute Data Migration Challenge for inspiration. Test your data migration knowledge and help support relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria victims.


Benefiting Hurricane Harvey, Irma & Maria Victims

Take a trip through time to clean up your unstructured data. The fate of your company is in your hands—so delete and futurize your content wisely.