Recent studies suggest that 69 percent of a company's stored data has absolutely no value to the organisation. In essence this means that organisations could be spending up to 20 percent of their annual budget on storing data that has gone stale, with virtually no ROI. When it comes to getting to grips with the mammoth task of dark data, FA tools deliver enterprises with the information required to 'clean up' legacy and current data, by identifying which data can moved to lower cost storage, and others which can be deleted.
The key to satisfying the need to hoard information, as well as those who might leverage it for the business, is to first identify what data has value for which part of the organisation, and for how long, so that it can be leveraged.
Once data has been evaluated and indexed properly, organisations can better determine how and where to store that data—whether it's locally, in the cloud, or using a combination of solutions. The classification process, enabled by FA tools, can also support a well-defined data strategy and used to enforce information governance policies. Although as Gartner highlights, less than 1 percent of organisations manage their unstructured data today, by 2018 that figure is expected to increase up to 25 percent.
Budget implications will drive the need for data management policy and data classification. Automated classification will play an increasingly integral role in the implementation of data classification policies, which will ultimately lead to a more streamlined approach and cost savings.
Without FA tools, it can be extremely labour-intensive to sift through the masses of irrelevant information contained within dark data. This 'run around' either consumes IT management's time and budget, leaving less bandwidth for immediate business needs, or requires a costly outsourced response. FA tools ultimately allow for faster location of data. In a corporate landscape, where the risks associated with locating necessary data in the event of a breach or in response to legal action are significant, e-Discovery benefits are expected to drive the adoption of FA as companies begin to address their dark data.
The main challenge organisations face in adopting FA is that they are reluctant to finally face the abyss that dark data represents. But IT management must bear in mind that at its core, dark data represents untapped opportunities to transform the business, and this can only be realised through a combination of efficient migration, or deletion, and content-aware retention.
Once this process is started, the benefits can be seen almost immediately in terms of cost savings and resource reduction, as well as business insight via e-Discovery processes. FA tools can and will assist organisations to take action on dark data to 'unleash the light' within. As word spreads on the ROI potential of such tools, we will see these tools used more and more frequently.
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