With the big data revolution underway, managing information is harder than ever. Businesses may find, perhaps too late, that their information management strategy is not providing the value they need. Here are five land mines of information management, and how to avoid each one of them.

1. Taking a One-Size-Fits-All Approach

One size fits all is the biggest fallacy regarding information retention. Most organizations try to apply a general rule across the organization and across all data types. In reality, different data types, source locations, content types, and user categories need different policies.

On the other hand, it’s a good idea to start with a general rule that is not too aggressive. Just don’t stop there. Use the reports you get from applying that general rule to create stronger policies better aligned with the use case in question. This approach leads to cost-effective archiving that meets the needs of stakeholders and use cases across the organization.

2. Not Capturing All the Data

The amount of data is doubling every two years. Companies use and store vast quantities of data. The challenge is even more acute because data is generated from so many different places and devices. In many cases, the IT department is not always on the front lines of chronicling these constant changes. You need information management strategies and policies that help the entire business understand how data is being created and used. As employees use new devices or share data in new ways, you must stay on top of those developments and incorporate new forms of data into your governance plans. Otherwise, important data sources will be left unprotected.

The best way to ensure this type of vigilant monitoring and data collection is through a single virtual repository that captures and stores data, whether it’s archived or backed up, in the public or private cloud, from all types of devices. With such a repository, data can be comprehensively searched from a single location and deduplicated. The result is better control of applications, processes, and data workflows across the organization.

3. Not Automating Information Management

You cannot develop a comprehensive information management strategy solely through manual processes – it’s impossible for any company, no matter what size, to keep up. Automation is integral to helping you play offense and stay ahead of the data that’s coming your way.

Automation enables you to more fluidly handle long-term retention and data categorization. This is especially pertinent to retention. With automation, you can perform analytics that enable you to control the growth of your data while also controlling risk. The “keep everything forever” mentality is both costly and risky. It’s important to understand the liability associated with the data being retained. With the right strategies, the value of data is better understood so that valuable data can be preserved and meaningless and duplicate data deleted.

Across industries, companies retain fully 70% more data than they need. Storing and managing all that data is expensive and provides no value. In many cases, it’s dark data, meaning that companies don’t even know what they have. Being able to delete such data not only saves money, it also enables you to sort through valuable data and ensure all data is accounted for. Without automation, there is no way to identify all potential problems.

4. Not Empowering Users

The adage that a company is only as good as its people is true for information management too. Be strategic in how you store and catalog data so that authorized users can access what they need, when they need it. Make information transparently accessible and useable. Everyone benefits with more data in the hands of more employees, helping to drive decisions and providing greater understanding of the business.

Information management helps ensure that data can be used and is not just wasting space. Try to include specialized search experiences within your information management systems so that all potential users can access data, regardless of their technical expertise, without help from IT.

5. Not Taking Advantage of Data Assets

With the right information management structure in place, you can experience the additional benefit of better support for existing activities. Again, the key to proper information management is getting more out of your data – shedding light on what was previously dark. Once you achieve this, you can better understand how to use your data and make it a true asset. You can build apps that improve operations, use weblogs for marketing insights, and diagnose problems in the IT infrastructure.

Information management is an ever more pressing concern for businesses of all sizes and sectors. By avoiding the weaknesses that plague many companies, you can adopt information management processes and policies that will make you more nimble and better able to capitalize on your data.

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