While the cloud has delivered massive cost and agility benefits for businesses in all industries, there is one counterintuitive challenge being created by the unlimited storage capacity it offers. Because businesses can access virtually limitless storage at a low cost, they no longer have to focus on deleting anything. This means businesses are unlikely to have deletion policies in place for the cloud.
While this may seem like a boom for businesses who no longer have to concern themselves with physical archives, hardware and server costs, or deciding what to delete and what to keep, it actually creates a different set of business risks that must be addressed, according to Micro Focus.
Brandon Voight, regional director of sales, information management, Micro Focus, said, “There is a great freedom for businesses that comes with not having to delete or destroy information just because they’ve run out of room for it. It lets them keep records for longer and, if they have the right analytics capabilities in place, they can continue to use this information to create predictive models that help them make smarter business decisions. However, if the information isn’t governed appropriately, the business may run into serious problems.
“When businesses are searching their documents for information, they need accurate results now, in five years, and in 10 years. If the data isn’t classified and governed correctly, they’ll never be able to sift through all the documents that have never been deleted and determine which is the right one for their current purposes.
“To remain compliant and productive, businesses need to classify data and manage it appropriately throughout the document lifecycle. If they can’t achieve that classification with confidence then keeping everything forever will create risk.”
Micro Focus has identified six key risks associated with never deleting anything:
- Compliance: as consumers are given more control over their personal information, businesses face an increased compliance burden. Legislation requires businesses to make personal information available to the relevant individual. The individual is allowed to demand that the data be altered or deleted; if the company can’t find all of the data easily and accurately, then it can’t comply. Non-compliance can bring fines as well as reputational damage.
- Productivity and customer service: if the business is unable to find documents required to comply with audit requirements and document retention legislation, this can create productivity issues. Having staff members unproductively searching for the right document takes them away from more valuable activities and creates a perception that the business is disorganised. Even if the request for information or documentation comes from a customer, with no specific legislative power, being unable to provide or access that documentation means the business will provide poor customer service. This can further damage the company’s credibility.
- Investigations: most companies don’t operate under the assumption that they will be investigated but it’s impossible to predict whether an organisation will be brought into legal action through no fault of its own. If that happens and the organisation can’t produce key documents, it could be subject to penalties and, again, reputational damage.
- Insights: the value of having massive amounts of documents and data lies in being able to analyse them to derive business insights that facilitate better, faster decision-making. If businesses can’t access the right information, then they won’t be able to achieve these insights, which could put them at a competitive disadvantage relative to other organisations in their industry.
- Errors: improperly-governed data can result in business decision-makers using the wrong information to make decisions. That can lead to mistakes and negative outcomes.
- Security: in an increasingly security-conscious era, it’s essential to be able to protect the organisation’s information. However, it’s impossible to protect what the business can’t see. If there is documentation and information scattered across the cloud, the company can’t be expected to secure it all with confidence.
To mitigate these risks and overcome the challenge of governing unlimited amounts of data, businesses need solutions that offer secure content management. The solution’s archiving capabilities must encompass non-traditional forms of business communication such as social media as well as email and traditional documents. It must include comprehensive and accurate search capabilities across text, video, image, audio and more, and a system to classify, secure, and manage documents.
Brandon Voight said, “Businesses should look for a vendor that offers a portfolio of leading solutions to help automate information governance and save time. Its approach should include analytical insights that help customers proactively manage risk and derive value from all information sources, while making compliance and governance more productive. With this in place, businesses can turn the cloud’s unlimited storage capabilities from risk into an opportunity.”