August 25, 2015

Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial Data: 3 Simple Steps to Eliminate ROT

4 minute read

All organizations have ROT – (Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial) data: unstructured information scattered throughout the enterprise that has no value. Some examples include but are not limited to: clogged shared drives and SharePoint sites, unnecessary duplicate copies of emails, music files, video files, terminated employee documents, etc. Although intelligent search tools are improving, this redundant, obsolete and trivial data is still next to impossible to find when you need it, which can contribute to increased e-discovery costs and compliance concerns.

How can your organization eliminate ROT Data?

Create a Workable Taxonomy

The first step to eliminating ROT is to create a “workable” taxonomy. What is a taxonomy? AIIM International defines a taxonomy by its three major functions:

  • Provides an easy to comprehend and navigate visual structure of a knowledge domain
  • Groups related entities together so that by finding one entity you can find related things nearby
  • Provides a semantic representation of a knowledge domain – i.e. it provides the key vocabulary covering the main concepts, and expresses the relationships between them.

For purposes of this conversation, we are going to focus on the second bullet point. To be able to group related entities together and categorize them properly, you will need to converse with key stakeholders in your organization. Knowing what vocabulary works best for them is crucial at this stage in the game. Your taxonomy must be easy to use, so users actually realize the benefit. For example, if your taxonomy is too strict, users will find a work around and you will find yourself back on square one. In addition, it must be flexible enough to evolve over time and grow with the business.

Purchase a Software Tool

Assuming that you have a “workable” taxonomy and user adoption is at its peak, one of the most successful way to deal with ROT data is to identify and categorize information when it’s first created. Then, apply a policy that will trigger the deletion of data before it impacts the organization. This is easier said than done.

With market for content analytic tools maturing, now is the time to invest in this type of software. It’s just not possible to manually enforce application of policy. In fact, it’s probably the single most reason organizations are dealing with information chaos to begin with.

An automated approach is needed. For example, think of the emails in your inbox. What if your organization required you to manually categorize every single email on a daily basis? Yeah right! It’s not practical. Why? Users want to spend time doing the job they were hired to do, not information management.

Stop Buying More Storage

Finally, stop buying more storage! A one terabyte hard drive costs less than $50. So it’s easy enough to address data growth by simply buying more storage. Why waste time managing information when storage is so cheap? However, the problem doesn’t lie in the cost of storage alone. It lies with the cost to find and produce the right information when you need it.

Some of these cost areas include:

  • eDiscovery – cost associated with producing data in a litigation can be astronomical. The fact of the matter is this: the more ROT data you have mixed with “intelligent” data, the more time it takes to sort through. As the old saying goes, time is money!
  • Information Governance – information is only valuable if you know where it is. Not being able to find information when you need it can make information not an asset, but a liability.
  • Compliance – corporate reputation is at risk when you have massive amounts of uncontrolled data. The cost of one data breach can far exceed the cost associated with data storage. If you don’t believe us, just ask companies like Target, eBay and Home Depot.

By following these three simple steps, your organization can start eliminating ROT (redundant, obsolete and trivial) data today.

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