Moving to the Cloud? Clean Up Your Unstructured Data First

May 15, 2020

4 minute read



The COVID-19 pandemic served as a jolt to the market where remote workforces exposed gaps in open (yet secure) access to the systems and content users required. Nonetheless, the push to migrate all systems and content to the cloud continues unabated, even if there have been a few pauses and surprises along the way. Organizations can realize significant cost savings through a cloud migration, but moving from on-prem to the cloud is hardly a panacea.

You can’t just copy and paste your on-prem reality into the cloud. Doing so would simply transfer existing issues and set off a ripple of new ones, offsetting any potential cost savings.

Read how to find windfalls and reduce costs by cleaning up your unstructured data before you migrate to the cloud.

1. Automate

A large part of the cost and frustration of dealing with the petabytes of unstructured content is the herculean manual effort required to migrate it. To reduce manual make-work, look for opportunities to automate the discovery, clean-up, enhancement, and transfer of content between systems and locations. Ensure you focus on proven platforms that can perform at scale for one-time and ongoing content workflows.

2. Discover & Remove the ROT

Whether you’re kicking off a review of existing content or tackling the massive volumes and variety of unstructured data created every day, it all needs to start with a clear picture of what you have.

Simply dumping your content into new systems or cloud repositories and data lakes artificially inflates the costs and effort required. Discovery tools can dig into and analyze content across fileshares, repositories, data lakes and beyond to give you a sense of what you’re dealing with.

Once you have a firm grasp on what data you have, you can effectively start dealing with it. Many companies are surprised by the level of ROT (redundant, obsolete, and trivial) content they possess. By trimming the ROT and reducing the volume of unstructured data, you can lower processing and storage costs and shift your focus to higher-priority content.

3. Standardize & Enhance

When migrating content from legacy systems, or when migrating to cloud-based systems, you must ensure your content remains accessible. Often this means standardizing all content to a universally accessible format such as PDF. To ensure that all content is findable—including content in non-searchable formats, like scanned images—it’s vital to perform OCR. Standardizing and making content searchable improves access and the long term-value of your content, and allows you to enhance it further (by classfying or tagging the content and performing targeted Data Extraction).

4. Uncover Value & Risk

Going a step further, true leaders recognize the power and potential of the data hidden in their content. With 80 percent of an organizations data hidden in unstructured document formats, there’s a huge opportunity to transform your data into a strategic asset. Surfacing data from your “dark” content provides opportunities to create value and manage risk.

Data helps surface vital insights, allowing your organization to improve customer experience and find ways to deliver new value. Gaining full visibility into your content allows you to find, manage, and remediate potential risks due to regulations like GDPR, which require effective management of PII (Personally Identifiable Information) or other sensitive data. Managing this risk can help you sidestep non-compliance fines and other costs.

The Final Verdict

Moving systems and content to the cloud not only makes sense from a cost-reduction perspective but, when done properly, is an essential step in creating an agile digital business that supports work done both in the office or remotely. Cloud-based content ensures your organization achieves cost reductions while simultaneously addressing the new realities of maintaining and even accelerating business workflows in a new “distributed” work environment.

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