Data is expanding at a rate that outpaces the speed at which IT practitioners are becoming compliance experts, and information governance (IG) practices that create specific rules regarding the management of data are still largely undefined and difficult to enforce. Perhaps the most perplexing and pressing challenge related to IG is governing unstructured data, which is not found within an organized database.
Unstructured data typically includes Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, PDFs, media text files, emails, audio files and images. According to reports from IDG and Gartner, unstructured data is growing at a rate of 62 percent per year, and by 2022, 93 percent of digital data will be unstructured. Further complicating the issue is that this data is often created and saved over a multitude of repositories like ECM systems, shared drives, desktops, cloud environments, etc.
According to Rob Hamilton, vice president and digital market leader, Recall, corralling unstructured data is possible, but it cannot occur if IG decision-makers create policies that drastically impact business user workflow. If policies make their job significantly more difficult, they’ll find workarounds for managing data that may put the organization at risk. The following suggestions can shrink the amount of unstructured data, help maintain compliance and gain buy-in from those most impacted by IG policies.
Improving Compliance with Information Governance Policies
Click through for tips on how organizations can shrink their unstructured data, help maintain compliance and gain buy-in from those most impacted by IG policies, as identified by Rob Hamilton, vice president and digital market leader, Recall.
Incorporate upfront metadata for classification.
Upfront metadata encoding allows business users to quickly input a document’s purpose, location and lifecycle. Systems that allow business users to input that information in an easy, intuitive manner — through simple drop-downs, for example — will ensure that other stakeholders have the necessary information to determine where data is and when it needs to be removed.
Offer email alternatives.
Emails represent the most challenging form of unstructured data, as they often contain critical information that is back and forth and take up sizable storage space. Enterprise-grade archiving instant message tools, for example, can give business users an even quicker way to get information they need, while drastically reducing internal emails. Additionally, file, synch and share systems, with enterprise-grade security, also allow business users to securely collaborate without sending large files via email.
Better communicate data policies.
Very often, business users may inadvertently contribute to the mismanagement of data for fear of making a mistake. For example, legal matters require organizations to put a hold on deleting emails or other files that contain critical information. As a result, business users save everything and continue to do so if the end of the hold isn’t properly communicated.
Request input on users’ workflow.
Get a better understanding of why and how business users create, file, delete/not delete data. Examine the pros and cons of potential processes, and create an environment where supporting IG is part of the corporate DNA.
Incorporate input into IG policy.
Not all rules can be created with every need in mind, but if employees don’t feel like they’re a part of the process or that rules are created without their day-to-day in mind, IG plans simply will not succeed.