How to pull back your data archives from the brink of chaos

datachaos1Organisations of all shapes and sizes across the world are drowning in big data, there’s no doubt about it. Yet, with hard drives, servers, file cabinets and storage facilities across the UK at capacity, the volume of information being collected will only continue to increase in the coming years.

What organisations are failing to see however, is that massive amounts of data are leading to cluttered archives and inefficient strategies that keep organisations from mining insights that could otherwise improve business outcomes.

So what is data archiving and why is it so important?

Not to be confused with data back-up, data archiving is the process of storing fixed content for future retrieval and use. While archiving data has typically meant moving less frequently accessed, static data into long-term storage, archiving now includes strategies such as archive in-place, data warehousing and fully indexed content placed on near-term storage solutions all designed to allow greater accessibility to data.

These strategies make it faster and easier for organisations to meet increased legal and regulatory demands and create opportunities for businesses to synthesise the information necessary to inform critical business decisions.

A recent study, 'Mining for Insight: Rediscovering the Data Archive', an IDC whitepaper sponsored by Iron Mountain, confirmed that organisations are indeed drowning in data and unable to effectively mine their data archives for key insights.

The findings however, also indicate that a subset of organisations are in fact successfully leveraging their data archives and the benefits are impressive - as much as an additional $10M (£6.4M) in cost savings from streamlined IT and customer service operations.

The more data you have, the more problems you’ll get

The study found that without clear processes and pressure from the top to implement big data programmes, more than 48% of organisations simply archive everything to avoid investing time and resources upfront to determine what’s truly important.

Over time, companies archiving everything quickly amass ‘data swamps’ making data hard to find when needed, as opposed to the ‘data lakes’ many businesses aspire to create with a crystal clear data archiving strategy for quick and easy information.

Big data blindness

Surprisingly, the study found that 72% of organisations in the UK believe they are already maximising the value of their archives. However, the study also found that only 32% of companies are actually using archives for business analysis, a critical process to drive additional revenue.

This is a serious disconnect that demonstrates data archiving is a real blind spot for business leaders.

Even more telling is the fact that a staggering 87% of organisations lack a uniform process for archiving across data types, making it possible to identify and access important information when needed.

Archived data impacts the bottom line

The study reveals that organisations with a well-defined data archive process stand to realise value from two potential avenues: cost savings and added revenue from monetising archives.

On the savings front, nearly half (47%) of the organisations polled in the UK realised $1M (£640,000) or more in savings over the past year from risk mitigation and avoidance of litigation, with the top 19% reporting savings of more than $10M (£6.4M).

Similarly, nearly half (45%) of organisations reaped $1M (£640,000) or more in savings stemming from reduced operational or capital costs, with the top 17% capturing more than $10M (£6.4M).

More striking is an organisation’s ability to draw new revenue from an effectively managed data archive. More than a third (36%) of companies surveyed benefitted from an additional $1M (£640,000) or more in revenue, the top 12% gained more than $10M(£6.4M). On average, companies polled saw an additional $7.5M (£4.8M) in new revenue streams from their data archive.

So how can organisations bridge the disconnect between perception and reality?

Appoint a Chief Data Officer to oversee and derive value from the data archive, while working closely with the Chief Operating and Chief Information Officers to set long-term business and data strategies.

Develop information maps of all data sources and repositories (and their value) across the organisation.

Implement a holistic, consistent archiving strategy that addresses data retention schedules, use cases, the value of data, necessary accessibility and archive costs.

And consider working with a third party vendor with specific expertise to help optimise your archiving solution while freeing up internal IT resources to focus on more strategic and innovative work.

The disconnect between perception and reality when it comes to data archiving is real, and just because an organisation is drowning in big data, doesn’t mean it can’t get back on track.

Source: Information Age

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