For most enterprises, information archiving is treated like the brussel sprouts of their data strategy: they know it’s good for them, but they’d rather sink their teeth into something more palatable first. But the consequences of these decisions often fall squarely on the shoulders of IT leaders. In absence of the right technology and approach, IT leaders must muddle through information archiving manually—and deal with the brunt of surprise compliance fallout.

To reduce compliance risk and reap the rewards of the rich business insights embedded within their data, IT leaders must push for a more intentional approach to information archiving. Secondary storage and data archiving must shift to become business priorities.

Why Your Data is an Asset and a Liability

It’s truly a double-edged sword: Years of documentation can be analyzed to glean deep new insights and better meet the needs of your customers. But those same documents, which could contain vast amounts of Personally Identifiable Information (PII), can also make your organization vulnerable to data breaches and compliance fines.

Your organizational data is both a treasure and potentially toxic—and it’s growing at an immense clip: by the year 2025, we’re projected to create 463 exabytes globally each day, the equivalent of 212,765,957 DVDs.1

The 3 Tenets of Successful Enterprise Information Archiving

There has never been a more important time to grow business value and mitigate risk by handling your data with care. This includes tending to data in three key stages: past, present, and future. (Don’t worry. You won’t be visited by three ghosts.)

DATA PAST: Your Archive as a Dynamic Resource

While archival files may seem like dusty, useless tomes, they are the farthest thing from it. If the idea of data archives conjures up an image of the digital version of a dusty old storeroom, your concept of data storage needs a refresh.

Data storage should be treated not as a place where information goes to die, but as an active resource. Once converted to utilizable formats, and properly classified and categorized, your data archives offer a rich resource for uncovering customer trends and other vital insights.

Not all content needs to be archived, though. Some data, such as PII, must be deleted under specific timelines in order to meet various compliance regulations. A failure to do so—on time and as prescribed—can result in business risks such as costly fines and reputational damage in the event of a breach.

As you develop your archiving plan, it’s important to think about what to do with content that must be deleted now or at some point in the future. Make sure you can easily identify and delete content that needs to be retained for a specific amount of time and then expunged.

DATA PRESENT: Think Beyond the “First Mile”

Many companies are already deriving benefit from simple digital transformation initiatives. Banks and insurance companies are successfully deploying technologies such as RPA to automate repetitive, rules-based tasks.

But to improve the efficiency and potential benefits of legacy data, organizations need to think beyond the “first mile” of data creation, capture, and utilization—baking best practices for archiving into their standard processes and workflows. Leaders must give serious thought into what happens to content when it is no longer actively needed.

DATA FUTURE: Identify Future-Proof Solutions

What happens to content when it’s no longer actively needed? Does it need to be archived? Discarded? What are the processes for each?

While storage may be inexpensive and abundant compared to the past, this is just one consideration. How to store content, and how to prepare it for storage, are two key areas that shouldn’t be overlooked. Think not only about what solutions best fit your business needs today, but what will work in the future too.

Whether due to compliance requirements, the potential for future use, or something else entirely, businesses first need to identify which content must be stored for the long term. Once you’ve decided what to archive, you need to determine the processes and tools that must be put in place.

In developing archiving strategies, the process of transforming disparate documents from multiple lines of business into uniform, clean, and agnostic formats is the key to ensuring data can readily be searched and utilized—now and in the future. This means addressing unstructured data now—not filing it away to review at some later date. Content should be properly classified and tagged with metadata—helping to provide a clear, organized view of what exists in your archive.

The Final Verdict

Your organizational data is both an asset and a liability, and outdated and legacy information must be treated accordingly. Follow the tenets for successful enterprise information archiving to reduce risk and put important insights at your fingertips. Click here to learn more about the tools and best practices for long-term digital preservation.

References

1World Economic Forum: How much data is generated each day?