One of the scariest statistics in recent memory is IDC's prediction that the amount of digital data will grow six times over between now and 2010, reaching a whopping 988 billion gigabytes. (That's a figure so huge, it would be helpful to have one of those goofy yet helpful references to put it into context. How many football fields it would fill, for example.)
So what are companies doing with all of this data? Concerned about compliance requirements, among other things, they are storing it. Once they store it, however, they often can't find it. According to Accenture, middle managers spend up to two hours a day trying to track down needed information. Fifty-nine percent of them place the blame on poor information distribution.
As this accountingWEB article points out, many folks use Outlook as a pseudo filing system or put information into spreadsheets, which a Gartner analyst calls a "phantom menace." She puts the amount of corporate information stored in spreadsheets at 30 percent.
One suggested approach to solving this problem is information lifecycle management (ILM), which is championed by storage vendors like HP and EMC. More of a strategy than a technology, ILM involves moving data to different tiers of storage based on its importance to an organization and the organization's need to access it.
IDC is trying to coin the term "information access," suggesting that it should involve a unified approach that would encompass both structured and unstructured data and involve a number of existing integration technologies.
Of course, this doesn't sound like a quick or easy fix. Maybe it's best to start with a high-level view of content architecture, as the Gartner analyst suggests in the accountingWEB article. Following that, invest in appropriate tools, and give employees incentives for following approved content policies.