Adding Storage or Enforcing Retention: The Debate is Over


I did a joint webcast this week with InformationWeek on strategies to deal with information overload (which made me feel guilty about my recent lull in blogging).  On the webcast we conducted a quick poll and I was fascinated by the results.  The poll consisted of two questions:

The first question was …

What is your organization’s current, primary strategy for dealing with its information overload?

The choices and audience responses were:

  1. Adding more storage  35.2%
  2. Developing new enterprise retention policies to address information growth  29.6%
  3. Enforcing enterprise retention policies more vigorously  9.3%
  4. Don’t know  25.9%

The second question was the same except asked in a future tense:

What is your organization’s future, primary strategy for dealing with its information overload?

It had the same choices but far different audience responses:

  1. Adding more storage  19.1%
  2. Developing new enterprise retention policies to address information growth  29.8%
  3. Enforcing enterprise retention policies more vigorously  25.5%
  4. Don’t know  25.5%

Holy smokes Batman! … I think we are coming out of the dark ages.  Keep in mind that InformationWeek serves an IT centric audience and generally not the RIM or Legal stakeholders who are already passionate about retention and disposition of records and information.  From this survey data I concluded the following from this IT centric audience:

  • 29.6% already developing retention policies today in addition to those that already have them – this is progress.
  • Adding storage as a primary strategy will decrease from 35.2% to 19.2%this is amazing … and may be the first time “adding storage” wasn’t the automatic answer.
  • Enforcing retention as a primary strategy will increase from 9.3% to 25.5%IT professionals clearly understand that enforcing retention is “the” answer to controlling information growth, see Spring Cleaning for Information and How Long Do I Keep Information?
  • 55.3% will develop or enforce retention policies as a primary strategy in the future – more than 3 times now prefer this to adding storage.
  • Developing and enforcing retention policies is now the clear choice for a primary strategy to address information overload and growth over simply adding storage.

This isn’t the only data that supports this of course.  According to Osterman Research, 70% of organizations share the same concern.  A number of related resources can be found at http://tinyurl.com/2fayjwf including a webinar from Osterman and others.

Here is the replay link to the information overload webinar Content Assessment: The Critical First Steps to Gaining Control that serves as the backdrop for this posting … I hope you check it out.

In any case, rejoice with me … Ding Dong the Witch is Dead !

Developing and enforcing retention policies is now the clear choice and current primary strategy over simply adding storage by all stakeholders … IT, Legal and RIM.  Are you seeing the same change in thought and action in your organization?  Let me know by sharing your thoughts.

7 thoughts on “Adding Storage or Enforcing Retention: The Debate is Over

  1. Finally, the responses are moving in the right direction!

    That said, I’m not convinced we’ve reached the tipping point yet where the desire to create and enforce proper retention policies will shift to organizational action.

    Business decisions are driven by the bottom line – how do I make money or save money?

    Until it becomes demonstrably cheaper to manage & leverage properly versus “just add more storage,” the automatic answer of adding more storage will probably continue to be what we see for the majority of organizations.

    But, the fact we’ve got these statistics to showcase that more people are thinking smarter about their content is no mean feat!

  2. Great blog Craig. Perhaps this will reinforce what we’ver known for a long time – that good RIM policies and processes CAN save $$ while increasing compliance.

  3. Craig,

    We are seeing the same thing in practice with customers … namely a discovery on their part that once information has reached the end of its business purpose and assuming there is no legal obligation to keep it, that information moves from the ‘asset’ column to the ‘liability’ column. More storage and related costs can’t be justified for keeping ‘liabilities’ around.

  4. Craig,

    from these two populations under the ‘currents’ questions:

    2. Developing new enterprise retention policies to address information growth 29.6%
    3. Enforcing enterprise retention policies more vigorously 9.3%

    Did any enterprises disclose whether or not they were actually disposing of information and which areas of what percentage of disposition (relative to all that can be disposed) is transacting?

    Are there areas of enterprise data or certain regulatory areas that are more prevalent for enforcement than others?

    • David – The survey poll did not go into that level of detail but your questions would make great follow-up questions for sure. Anyone have any insight to share on David’s question?

      Best, Craig

      • Craig, following up from your blog entry and David’s questions. David, please take a look into a new survey at CGOC.com, Survey of Information Governance Practices in Global 1000 Companies Released by CGOC. Results only make one think more.

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