The changing of the calendar to March and April often signifies the start of Spring and the time of year when professionals, students and families alike take time out to clean up their stuff - including their ROT. Still, not all enjoy saying farewell to trash.
“Oh, I love trash!
Anything dirty or dingy or dusty.
Anything ragged or rotten or rusty.
Yes, I love trash…
I have here some newspaper 13months old.
I wrapped fish inside it; it's smelly and cold.
But I wouldn't trade it for a big pot o' gold!
I love it because it's trash!” - Oscar, The Grouch
This particular song, written by Jeff Moss and performed by, of course, Oscar the Grouch of Sesame Street, highlights the fact that trash - or what this article will refer to as ROT - is very appealing to Oscar, who actually paints a disgusting if not horrifying picture in our minds of what is so glorious about his treasured collection of rotten trash. Unlike the beloved Sesame Street character who adored his trash, ROT (Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial Content) is not something businesses should exactly adore - it is, after all, content that no longer carries business value. However, in some ways, ROT isn't all that bad.
ROT doesn’t have to be dirty or dingy or dusty...ragged or even rusty.
4 Reasons To Love ROT
- ROT can generate immediate benefits in terms of cost savings! Even If only 50% of an organization's data is ROT, there are a multitude of tools, many of which are part of an organization's enterprise search capabilities already, that can be used to identify and report on what is ROT so that it can be recommended to business leaders for destruction. File Analysis (FA) tools, also known as auto classification and data clean up tools, can quickly churn through the bloat building in your organization’s coffers to deliver immediate cost savings by identifying your ROT and facilitating the destruction of this redundant, outdated and trivial data and information and then further enabling your organization to develop business rules to better classify and disposition record that is pure gold vs. trash.
- ROT delivers on cost avoidance savings! Once deleted, less ROT means less information that could be subject to a future litigation hold or regulatory finding. Deletion of ROT enables compliance with an orgnaization's corporate retention schedule. The biggest risk from failure of information governance is excess litigation damages or costs.
- ROT assessment is easy! ROT assessment does not require a great deal of business engagement in identification to make a big difference in the IT bottom line of an enterprise. An enterprise can do an assessment of records to reveal content, including media files - companyh pictures, corporate events, and files that are easily identified as duplicates. By analyzing data based on age, duplication, file type, last accessed and other parameters, an organization can easily determine instances of ROT.
- ROT identification, assessment and deletion can lead to, and perhaps even fund a program of Information Governance and Records Management transformation! Cleaning out ROT - and appreciating the benefits of ROT removal - can inspire future classification projects driven to improve information governance, as well as elevate best practices in information management processes, policies and procedures.
ROT Lesson: Let Your Trash Become Treasure!
For most organizations, data is being created every day and at a rate that can threaten to overwhelm enterprises to the point of ineffectiveness. According to recent AIIM research, this redundant, obsolete, and trivial information could be as high as 80% and growing. To effectively manage the expansion of data in today's competitive digital enterprises, businesses today, according to AIIM, must:
- Get to know what data is living throughout an organization.
- Clean up ROT – redundant, obsolete, and trivial information.
- Reduce storage and move forward with cleaner and safer data.
- Employ cost-effective, consistent retention and records management practices.
In a recent AIIM survey, it was observed that:
- Electronic records are “increasing rapidly” in 68% of organizations surveyed. While 32% reported a decrease in their paper records, not one respondent reported a decrease in electronic records.
- On average, respondents estimate that only 42% of their electronically stored information is useful to the business. 58% is therefore ROT.
- Only 12% of respondents feel confident that they store only what they need to store. Only 37% are confident that they can identify what is safe to delete.
- The biggest benefit given from good information governance is reduction in storage costs (cited by 55%), followed by exploiting and sharing knowledge resources (50%), and faster response to events and enquiries (47%).
- The biggest risk from failure of information governance is excess litigation costs or damages (41%). Next is loss of intellectual property or confidential information (35%), then loss of customer confidance or bad publicity, particularly from data breaches or loss of personal data (31%).
AIIM Survey: Valuable Content or ROT: Who Decides?
If up to 80% from previous studies or even 58% from this most recent survey, of all of that information is ROT, there are a lot of cost savings to be returned or re-used in terms of IT hardware, support and licensing costs, but there are other factors at play here as well.
Before pressing the delete key, Information Governance practitioners will explain that there are risks inherent in deleting, just as there are with saving and retaining. Information Governance goes beyond traditional records management by incorporating legal, IT, information security, privacy, compliance, risk management, eDiscovery, master data management, archiving and more to manage information at the enterprise level in order to support current and future business, legal, and regulatory requirements.
So, as Spring comes into view, take the time to take stock in what ROT your organization can address. Whether your enterprise is looking to simplify and make sense of the data on all network drives, migrate to a new system, clean-up existing data storage, decommission legacy applications or deploy best practices in defensible disposition of stale data, the inevitable remains constant - whether you love ROT or hate ROT, taking out the trash is always a positive.