Slay Your Digital Stockpile Monster

By Bryant Duhon posted 02-15-2013 13:33



James Watson, Ph, Dpreviews his AIIM 2013 roundtable session. Enjoy, and follow #AIIM13 and @AIIMcon on Twitter. Register today, space is limited and going fast.

James Watson

President and CEO


March 21 at 1:30

Deleting Information – Not for the faint of heart

In most companies, the digital stockpile has been growing for a quarter-century (or more). Now that the majority of information assets are “born digital,” the growth rate of that 

stockpile will soon be off the charts. Organizations have to start right-sizing their content – not just to reduce the costs of maintaining all that content, but to address corporate risk and so users can make optimal use of information assets.

I get asked all the time: Is it really OK to delete information?

The answer is: YES, under certain conditions. Those conditions being: Have you fulfilled your preservation obligations (i.e., your obligations under your corporate records retention schedule and for retention of content related to legal holds?)?

Beyond your legal/regulatory obligations, you need to look at the business value of the information in that stockpile. There are potentially valuable nuggets in there, somewhere, but you want to identify for disposition all the content that’s of little or no business value. That could be content that’s very old and hasn’t been accessed within a defined period of time, or of a file type that indicates it’s of little or no utility (e.g. TEMP files, data dumps, install files), or content that shouldn’t be on a network, based on corporate policy (e.g. iTunes).

There are different heuristics to use to define what to keep and what to delete, but the bottom line is to follow a consistent process for deletion of content, no matter your organization’s specific conditions.

The fact is, saving all information assets is lazy.  

The reason we’ve all gotten into this mess is that we’ve all been pushing the problem down the road. Storage is cheap, right? But it’s a lot like how we’ve been dealing with the environment: Hey, it’s going to be way too expensive to clean up that mess; why not just leave it for the next guy (or generation) to take on? Or maybe you’ve tried various hardware storage techniques to hold off the beast: optimizing your storage via compression, tiered storage, or de-duping. But these techniques get you only so far. At some point you have to face down the monster: You have to implement policy-based disposal of stored content.

There’s a growing consensus that this can has gotten too big to be kicked any further down the road. Think about it: We’ve had a stagnant economy for the past 4 years; in many industries, business is flat, and revenues are flat, and in the meantime IT costs are on a steady upward trajectory. Now more than ever, executive management is becoming interested in taking on the digital stockpile and doing what’s necessary to weed out the junk – which means developing a process to address over-retention of content.

Let’s face it: Over-retention is a pervasive problem. How to plan for content disposition and how to leverage technology for effective information classification are the focus of my session at the upcoming AIIM Conference. But ultimately, disposition is more about process than technology, so I’ll also be talking about how you go about defining a reasonable diligence process to assess your organization’s requirements for retention and/or preservation of your information assets, based on the information at issue.

And don't forget to register for AIIM 2013. Space is limited and running out!

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