Every day, companies in the pursuit of their particular line of commerce are generating massive amounts of data via their employees, customers and business partners.
In many cases, this same wealth of unstructured data can pose a serious hurdle in its ongoing battle to support corporate and employee efficiency, while simultaneously protecting vital company assets.
IDC estimates that today’s employees are losing up to 20% of their daily productivity locating previously stored information, while, Gartner has long claimed that explosive data growth is causing IT to overhaul previous methods for data management.
But what if this data deluge isn’t the culprit, and it’s some of the traditional information management approaches that needs to be reformed?
To arrive at the answer, you need to identify the problems to be addressed. Rather than trying to treat a symptom by throwing more processing power at overstretched applications, step back and look more holistically at how information is being stored, managed and ultimately used in your organisation.
>See also: Big data: not a magic pill, but an antidote
Is your information management infrastructure helping address end user goals, or introducing hurdles and constraints? By tackling the problem at the source, you can reap the downstream benefits of better information use across the company.
Below are some common problems that can appear as a result of a poorly architected information infrastructure, and the questions you should be asking of your data. Do any of them sound familiar?
1. Sensitive information is easily compromised
What to ask: Who can access files containing personally identifiable information (PII)?
Files can easily slip into the public domain. Employees may use file-sharing programs that aren’t sanctioned by management, access rights for a domain may be altered when an administrator isn’t aware of the contents of every file within it, or an employee might simply choose the wrong location while saving a document.
The result can be as harmless as a mild annoyance when the employee tries to open the file again, or a major security breach if a file containing personal or financial information was accidentally saved to the public domain.
As unintentional as the cause may have been, sacrificing the security of this data affects the reputation of the entire company.
Invest in strategies that help you easily flag sensitive data at the point of creation, whether it exists within travel logistics, details of a business deal or customer records, so you can easily highlight which files require the utmost protection.
2. Paying to manage data you should have deleted
What to ask: Who and what is consuming your corporate resources?
Most companies have restrictions on the applications and files employees download to company-owned devices, but it’s rare to enforce them in full.
As the rates of remote working soar and the lines between one’s work and life blur, workers enjoy the perks of being connected at all times and using the same devices for professional and personal tasks.
Strict privacy settings that block needed websites or frequent inquiries from the company IT team can make employees feel frustrated.
And yet, when employees use company servers to host media libraries, download software that leaves a massive footprint or create files only to never open them again, their actions can result in the company expanding its storage budget just to support this personal data.
Develop a system that enables you to monitor the types of files employees are storing in order to determine its business value without encroaching on employee privacy, and you won’t find yourself paying to keep this information secure months or years after it should have been wiped.
3: Employee skills are under-utilised
What to ask: Are employees constantly reinventing the wheel, or are they leveraging existing expertise?
There’s nothing as strong as a common interest or shared history to establish a relationship with a new potential customer.
However, if you’re assigning your sales staff to new clients without taking your employees’ full resumes into account, you’re likely to miss matching them up with the accounts on which they’ll be the most effective.
That’s not to say these details are the responsibility of the IT department to share. Rather, IT should seek out tools that apply information intelligence and analytics to the company’s stored data, and then give employees across the organisation access to the results.
The insights already in the data can benefit employees across the company in unique ways — not to mention the ways it can accelerate IT. You just need to open up those insights and let your company reap the rewards.
To tackle your biggest questions, start small. Making specific inquiries, even if they’re rooted in the “why” or “how” of a much larger theme, will help any IT organisation create a plan that will accelerate business by tapping into unused resources.
After all, if you’re already paying for data storage, you may as well be investing in storage that’s intelligent enough to help you benefit from the rich information it is housing..
Sourced from Jeff Boehm, DataGravity