Information Governance Benchmark 2017: The Business Value of Long-Term Digital information

Mike Quinn, CEO, Preservica
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Mike Quinn, CEO, Preservica

Mike Quinn, CEO, Preservica

In 2016, Preservica collaborated with the Information Governance Initiative (IGI) to develop a benchmark study to explore the critical issue of governing and preserving long-term digital information for businesses. The study uncovered that the vast majority of information professionals understand the risks their organizations face, but relatively little is being done to address those risks.

The results of our 2017 benchmark study show long-term digital information is more important than ever. It's driving business value and protecting organizations from risk exposure. It is also proliferating, and can be found throughout core business functions and systems.

CIOs need to recognize the call to action to preserve the business value of their organization’s digital information.

What Types of Digital Information Need to be Preserved?

Nine in ten companies confirmed that legal, statutory and regulatory compliance requirements drive the need to retain digital records and information long-term. The consequences of failing to properly govern and manage long-term digital information are grave, with the impact felt all the way up to the CEO and Board of Directors.

In addition to legal and regulatory requirements, businesses need to retain information for HR and personnel requirements and corporate governance. While legal and regulatory requirements have always driven records management practices, the quest for leveraging business value is rising as a major driver too. The implementation of processes and technology solutions capable of protecting and ensuring long-term access to digital information still lags.

  It’s not enough to store digital information, you need to protect it and ensure it is accessible and useable by your organization   

CIOs need to act proactively, before underlying technologies and file formats become outdated or obsolete. Once a file becomes unreadable, it may be too late. Or the time, money, and technical resources required to access and prove its authenticity may become prohibitively high.

Ninety percent of survey respondents believe that “ensuring readability and usability of information” was a key requirement for governing and preserving long-term digital information, while 79 percent of respondents said that “proving authenticity and trustworthiness” was also important.

As Business Value Rises, So Does Risk

Value and risk are two sides of the same coin–a dynamic that has played out since the very beginning of commerce itself.

This year’s benchmark survey reveals that reveals that 83 percent of organizations aim to realize direct business value from their long-term digital information, targeting areas like market analysis, product innovation, and customer service.

Long-term digital information is proliferating across both systems and functions. While it is no surprise that collaboration environments (e.g., file sync and share, enterprise content management) are identified by Information Governance professionals as the most likely location for long-term digital information, other systems in the top five, including accounting and transactional systems, show how widely active preservation is needed.

Bearing the Brunt of Failure

CIOs are one of the top five stakeholders bearing the brunt of failure when long-term digital information is not properly preserved and governed.

The C-suite suffers most from this oversight. Information Governance professionals told us that their CEOs, General Counsels, Heads of Records Management, CIOs, and Boards of Directors are those most affected by failure in this area. Failing to ensure the resources, business processes and technologies to govern and preserve long-term digital information not only creates multiple sources of legal, security, and compliance risks, but also starves the organization of the information raw materials it needs to understand what happened so it can intelligently predict what will happen. As analysis tools and techniques continue to radically improve our ability to harness our digital information, this failure will only grow as a threat to competitiveness and innovation.

Awareness and Use of Technological Solutions Lags

Most organizations have digital records and information that they need to–or want to–keep for long periods of time.  Our 2017 Benchmark Report exposed the troubling dynamic that while virtually every organization (95 percent) needs to keep digital information for longer than ten years, very few have a viable approach for proper governance and preservation.

As a CIO, it is your responsibility to the organization to identify and implement capabilities specifically designed to ensure long-term preservation and access. It’s not enough to store digital information, you need to protect it and ensure it is accessible and useable by your organization when it may be needed, even if that is years down the road.

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