Records.Retention.Cost.Savings.2016.jpgInformation is the critical input into any information management strategy.

Right this moment, there are companies looking for better ways to leverage their information. One way to learn more about information is through information analysis - the science of evaluating information content, and refining information.

What is required to embark upon this critical data evaluation?

A process...

Information Analysis and Classification is the process by which information is categorized beyond Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial Content (ROT). It is information identified in the context of an enterprise's processes and functions and further analyzed according to its use, risk and value.

What are four reasons organizations are scrutinizing their information?
  • Information Governance Concerns: Information governance and compliance is the specification of decision rights and an accountability framework used to ensure appropriate behavior in the valuation, creation, storage, use, archiving and deletion of information. It includes the processes, roles and policies, standards and metrics that ensure the effective and efficient use of information in enabling an organization to achieve its goals. To operate with a more effective information governance practice, information analysis and classification processes are critical. 
  • Thirst for Information Security and Need for Digital Forensics: Gartner defines digital forensics as the use of specialized, investigative techniques and technologies to determine whether illegal or otherwise inappropriate events have occurred on computer systems, and provide legally defensible information about the sequence of those events. As a key capability for assessing security measure strength, it is no surprise that the overall information security market is forecast to grow at a 7.9% CAGR through 2019, which is a slight increase from the previous forecast of 7.4%. The largest revisions to the forecast came from the data loss prevention, intrusion prevention system equipment and VPN/firewall equipment segments.
  • Battling Data Bloat: Impacting enterprises in every market and industry, the plight of managing escalating data volume is understandable. Businesses are simply generating, processing, analyzing, interpreting and storing data on a massive scale, particularly those organizations that are have matured through their digital transformation (DX) journey. Today, more and more progressive and competitive organizations are investing in data analytics as a key component of these DX strategies as they expect to gain the most business value from its solutions. What's more, these same organizations are placing greater priority on structured and relational data initiatives compared to unstructured data and documents.

Read Also: Data Bloat - Enterprise Archiving Battles Information Bulge

  • Big Data Growth along the Digital Transformation Journey: The Big Data market continues to exhibit strong momentum as businesses accelerate their transformation into data-driven companies. This momentum is driving strong growth in big data-related infrastructure, software, and services. A new forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC) sees the big data technology and services market growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.1% over the 2014-2019 forecast period with annual spending reaching $48.6 billion in 2019. As big data matures, IDC expects its share of the larger Business Analytics market to increase.  In addition, 85% of Fortune 500 organizations are still unable to exploit big data for competitive advantage. A future, long term reduction in overall growth will be largely caused by increased price pressures for infrastructure and higher rates of commercialization of open source software.

Records.Retention.2016.jpgEnterprise Records Retention

Using an enterprise records retention schedule, whether organizational or process/function based, information governance practitioners can begin to group ‘like’ records. As this process moves forward they can work with business stakeholders to understand the rules, policies and procedures that governed the creation of the information and can apply some of these high level business rules to define more granular and useful, and in many cases more compliant, groupings of information.

Additional context is tagged to this information by applying taxonomies, ontologies, corporate thesauri or even organizational metadata models and documented IT standards to further classify these information groups. The business rules that are applied to derive each grouping is considered an information profile. These profiles are then run against targeted sample repositories of like data, information and records. Information governance practitioners then analyze the results against pre-defined success criteria. If the classification results are not high enough in this information analysis, the business rules are fine tuned or the profiles are adjusted to get the desired results.

Once these profiles are successful in identifying the enterprise information and data to agreed confidence levels, they may be configured to crawl other information sources to methodically and competently identify and classify information. Aside from enabling the organization to identify and delete ROT, there is little immediate ROI or business case benefits derived in this situation. Assessments or in this case, information analysis, is not actionable in and of itself. The organization needs to act on the information in order to demonstrate and realize tangible and intangible cost savings and mitigate risk. 

Significant Cost Savings 

Enterprise application rationalization, decommissioning and archiving when aligned, can return substantial tangible benefits to an organization. 

  • Software Licensing Reductions are achieved by moving off of expensive licensed applications that were being maintained to store inactive information, or information that was being kept beyond its retention policy.
  • Hardware Consolidations, re-allocations and retirements to ‘free up’ storage and middleware servers - hardware and support costs or re-utilize in buiding and implementing new platforms and solutions.
  • Staff can be re-energized to support these new applications or can be re-focused back on the business processes they were hired to deliver, rather than acting as power users to support their department in navigating and using obsolete applications.
  • Consulting dollars used to maintain systems, or resurrect applications to extract information is limited and costs could be collected as savings or returned to IT and business areas to support development, implementation or integration of new platforms, processes and systems.
  • Training requirements are reduced given that the total number of systems decreases and thus the burden of annual and new hire training is lessened
  • Search and retrieval time consumption is reduced when all inactive records are migrated and ingested into a digital archive and that S&R time returned to departments to streamline processes and gain new business efficiencies.
Migration & Digital Transformation Savings

Beyond archiving, moving records to more appropriate, active repositories to retain and manage this active information will mitigate risk and reduce search and retrieval times.  This movement or Migration can be aligned with integration efforts that will mobilize the records and information and make it accessible to digital transformation and data analytics tools that can drive new revenue with customers or be used to improve internal business processes.

Read Also: 6 Tangible eArchive Cost-Saving Benefits

Defensible Disposition Mitigates Risks & Avoids Costs

Lastly there is the policy-enabled, defensible destruction of corporate records and information that has met is retention requirement and is not subject to any legal or other business hold.  Defensible Destruction of records and information returns cost avoidance benefits in terms of damage to corporate reputations, prevention from compliance findings and associated fines or loss of ability to operate (manufacturing).  It also reduces the hardware burden on digital enterprises and reduces the physical records footprint and costs associated with records storage real estate, transport and management costs as well as any third party records storage costs.

Also Trending: 5 Key Steps To Your Defensible Destruction Strategy

Keep In Mind

Information Analysis and Classification is a process, not a just a step in a digital transformation journey.  If just a step, the analysis might enable ROT deletion benefits, but organizations miss out on the lion’s share of the benefits of information analysis and classification when they do not continue on to classify and then take the additional steps to better manage their digital assets - whether moving to an active repository in the cloud, an operational system, an enterprise archive solution or enabling defensible destruction.  

Read Also: 4 Reasons To Love ROT

Whether a business embarks on a digital transformation journey seeking to better leverage enterprise information or whether to better secure information to comply with international privacy laws and regulations, do not move foreward without investigating the benefits that a strong information analysis and classification solution delivers.