Every archiving software, hardware and services vendor for the last several years has gone to market with one or more of the following three simple statements:
- Chances are your organization will be facing litigation in the future.
- Retention policies are a must in any organization.
- Storage costs are out of control.
While compliance, litigation readiness and decreasing costs are all critical business drivers, and archiving solutions have proven to be effective in mitigating these risks, too many organizations are missing an opportunity to leverage their information assets by not extending their information management tools beyond departmental needs. Wikibon guest speaker Joe Martins, Managing Director of Data Mobility Group, led a discussion on the topic of "Is Archiving Broken" during the January 11, 2011 Peer Incite Meeting where this issue was discussed.
The vast majority of archiving vendors thrive on organizational chaos accompanied by fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). In particular, point solutions vendors focus on the amelioration of a particular pain point such as the cost of the ediscovery review and collection process or optimizing storage through deduplication, compression or single instancing features.
These products or features all decrease costs in the areas they address but may add operational expenses through poor integration with existing processes and systems or the need for additional IT support and intervention. Without an IM plan, organizations can manage their expenses but not easily leverage these applications for other purposes.
Most user organizations lack a cohesive Information Management (IM) strategy, and if they have one at all it usually falls on the CIO organization to define and operationalize the IM strategy for the entire enterprise.
A big part of the problem is senior management typically has not bought into the potential benefits of implementing an archive. Rather, archiving is viewed not as strategic but as a necessary evil to help ward off litigation, support regulatory and compliance requirements, and reduce storage costs. CIOs and their staff may also be responsible for not identifying opportunities and making the proper business case.
Finding New Archiving Opportunities
Forward-thinking organizations are leveraging their archiving solutions that may contain a treasure trove of information assets in various ways. For example, messages between employees and customers archived for compliance purposes can also provide valuable insight for customer service, marketing, product development, and sales departments to improve customer satisfaction and retention as well as drive revenue. Information archives can further enable the use of tools such as sentiment analysis, content analytics, and enterprise search because archived content is indexed and often very usefully classified.
A Central or Unified Archive, whether logical or physical, cloud based, in-house, hosted or hybrid, can, if implemented correctly, dramatically reduce ediscovery costs by streamlining the collection and review process, assist in optimizing storage through stubbing and single instancing of messages, and improve the time it takes employees to find content for any purpose.
Archive versus Backup
CIOs should not confuse archive with backup. Many organizations that have not deployed enterprise information archives and have faced court- or regulator-mandated ediscovery requests for electronically stored information (ESI) have found that savvy judges and lawyers will demand ESI be produced from backup tapes. This is the most expensive and time consuming process for producing required electronic content.
One large financial services firm estimated it used to take them more than 300 hours to retrieve ESI from tapes, file shares, and other sources for a single request. Today, after implementing a unified archive, that same process takes approximately one hour. For those organizations that still haven’t implemented an archive, forensic services are available at a premium to meet legal or regulatory requirements, and point solutions also exist to meet specific needs.
Most vendors don’t want buyers to develop a strategy for managing their information assets as they view strategy as an impediment to making a sale. Any comprehensive IM strategy must include an archive, whether in-house or hosted. Whenever possible archived data should be shared across the organization, not just coveted in silos by the departments that provided the initial funding. Click here for an organizational IM checklist
Action Item: CIOs need to look beyond the traditional justifications for implementing archiving solutions of compliance and litigation support or storage optimization and make a case for why and how archiving solutions can be leveraged across the enterprise to support new business opportunities, improve customer service and employee productivity.
Footnotes: For additional thoughts on this topic read Gary's blog Plan Now for the IM Solutions Future