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Fear The Data Demon: A Frightening IG Tale

Though Halloween is a long ways off, data nightmares can happen any time of year. Remain calm, grab your favorite blanket, and read on through this scary story.

It's a tale as old as time: a demon that lurks around every corner, terrorizing innocent people just trying to do their job. It gobbles up productivity and spews redundant, obsolete and trivial (ROT) data everywhere it goes, without concern for any mere mortal.

This ROTten monster has defeated even the most committed companies.

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Decades ago, a few brave men and women thought they had bested this demon when it was contained to file boxes and locked in a far away records center. In a concrete bunker, and away from the activity of an office, the monster could no longer grow. What they didn't realize, however, is the data demon was only beginning to show its real power.

Once electronic data became the norm in every organization, this ROTten creature steadily and silently rebuilt itself. The boom of the internet and cloud computing allowed this sinister demon to infect nearly every device and company in the world.

From the shadows, it grew meaner and bolder until it could no longer be shackled. And what's worse, because storage and computing had become so affordable, every IT department in the world was feeding this demon a steady data diet that it simply couldn't refuse. Dark data and ROT data are the lifeblood of this demon and there was a nearly endless world supply.

It was coming. It was taking over. It feared no man.

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As the dark truth began to sink in, a hero had to step up or the world of information governance as we know it would be lost...

It's now 2016. Years have passed and data has grown at unheard of rates. It was almost as if people were teasing the demon with all of this ROT data to feed on. It's not uncommon for up to 80% of a company's data to be infected with this ROTten data demon. But there has to be an antidote, doesn't there? Something or someone to save us from this horrible data fate?

Heroes Emerge

Just when all hope seemed lost, a team of heroes stepped up to save the day. The information governance team was formed. It included records managers, general counsel, compliance managers, IT and CIOs. Bound by a shared dream of useful, high quality data and determined to vanquish the data demon once and for all, a plan was formed.

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But how could such a diabolical demon be defeated?

Luckily for these heroes, a small band of Information Governance professionals had the same fear and began creating a program to arm them in their mission. For because this data demon was much too insidious to best with old, manual methods, automation was needed. Rules, classification and triggers could be used to wipe out this demon everywhere it lived within an enterprise.

To help share this knowledge, this group, known only as RecordLion, held a webinar to help heroes across the world to destroy the data demon that terrorized their organization. Armed with knowledge and the automation technology, the data demon began to take fatal strikes it knew it couldn't sustain.

Victory is a Constant Battle

The first strikes have been made but the data demon has been building for decades and will not go down without a fight. Continuous steps must be made by our heroic group of fighters.

1) Understand The Information

Understand what types of information (including sensitive information) the company has and where it is stored.

2) Actionable File Plan

Create a file plan that is pragmatic and actionable by IT and the business.

3) Invest In Technology

Invest in the proper technology to automate retention and disposition. Companies have many systems that house information. Retention, disposition and litigation hold functionality needs to integrate and address all these systems. Similarly, IT and end users can’t be reliably asked to become file clerks and research what they have and whether it is eligible for disposition—it’s never going to happen successfully. (2-3 weeks)

4) Do not disrupt the business.

Meet end users and IT where they are. Utilize the tools and processes currently in place while complying with policies.

5) Automate

Automate retention. Automate litigation holds. Automate disposition. Remove the human element when possible.

The battle against the data demon is unfortunately never ending, not unlike that argument about whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher. It can creep in if you let your guard down for even a moment. A strong, automated and consistent defense is required to keep the demon at bay.

So mount up, fellow information governance warriors. Steady your swords (or laptops in this case), steel your nerves, and prepare for an epic battle that although can be trying at times, is winnable with the proper process, people and technology.

By Andrew Borgschulte

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