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Guest View: Let your information work for you, not against you

Tan Yuh Woei | June 26, 2013
How businesses are faring when it comes to information retention plans.

IT today is undergoing dramatic changes. We're seeing a sharp increase in new technologies being implemented in the workplace, from mobility to the cloud. And while we tend to get caught up in the details of these trends, there is one common thread running through them all: information.

Organisations today are living and dying by the electronic information they are producing. From the skyrocketing number of files we are storing to big data analytics, the way we store and organise this information is more important than ever before. We have to manage it in such a way that it doesn't break the bank, while keeping it available for our daily productivity needs, as well as periodic eDiscovery and compliance activities. To see how businesses are faring when it comes to information retention, Symantec recently conducted a survey. The results show we still have significant progress to make in this area.

Information retention plans are a work in progress

The good news in this area is that the number of businesses with an information retention plan is going up. This year only seven percent reported having no plan and no likelihood of creating one, down from 14 percent a year prior. Even when a plan is created, however, it can be a challenge to achieve full implementation. The number that actually have a plan completely in place increased by just two percentage points this year, bringing it to 34 percent of the total. This means that nearly six in 10 are at some stage between no plan and a fully realised one. When asked what was causing businesses to lag in carrying out their information retention plan, the most commonly reported reason was the cost of carrying it out. We're also seeing some struggle when it comes to understanding the importance of an information retention plan. Among those with no plan, about one-third said they don't see the need for one, showing the necessity for improved understanding.

The need to produce information on demand

One of the most important reasons to improve information retention practices is to deal with legal and compliance requests for electronically stored files. This is still a serious challenge for businesses, with 44 percent reporting that they consider themselves less than somewhat confident in this area. While early case assessments are helpful for determining the likelihood of a case outcome, organisations are taking an average of 10 days to accomplish this.

eDiscovery requests are also coming at a significant pace, with the average number of requests per year now at 17. Fulfilling these requests quickly and comprehensively is an important part in legal and regulatory proceedings, but businesses say they are failing to do so nearly one-third of the time. This is a worrying increase from 2011, when the failure rate was only 20 percent. When companies are late in responding to these requests, or unable to respond at all, the consequences they report include a reduced ability to make decisions quickly, damage to the company reputation, compromised legal position and even fines.


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