October 14, 2010 – Less than one-fourth of corporations in the Global 1000 can fulfill their data retention and disposal objectives, leading to wasteful spending, legal risks and possible theft, according to findings in a new survey.

The Compliance, Governance and Oversight Council, in collaboration with the Electronic Discovery Reference Model, queried legal, IT and records maintenance leaders at companies in a wide range of industries on their information governance practices. The report stated that 98 percent of companies rated defensible disposal and retention of data as a key governance objective, though currently only 22 percent of those companies can fully handle that task.

Primary obstacles cited in the survey were disconnects between agencies or departments dealing with data, and a massive and expensive legacy systems drag on content management costs.

While 85 percent of companies agree that consistent collaboration is critical in data governance, leaders in IT, litigation and records largely pointed the blame for data governance on each other, the survey found. And, of organizations with information oversight committees in place, less than 17 percent surveyed stated they felt that all of the correct stakeholders are involved.

Organizational miscommunication or misdirection on data governance leads to other problems as well, the survey conductors reported. Nearly all companies in the survey had quotas linked to information governance, which they stated more easily leads to theft or misuse. Gaps in data retention schedule development can make the entire governance schedule obsolete, with the survey noting that 77 percent of companies’ schedules were not electronically usable or still relegated to paper documents.    

The inability to feasibly dispose of or retain that data can be costly and time consuming. Annual revenues for companies in the study ranged from $5 billion to more than $150 billion, and they dedicated 3.5 percent of revenue spending on data management. Much of that spending went on data that the survey concluded contained “no legal, regulatory, or business value.”

The growing glut of information will not make it easier to deal with data retention and disposal, but security risks and financial interests should make changes imperative for these corporations, the survey suggested.

“As data volume continues to rise, so does cost and risk – it’s imperative that CIOs and [general counsels] recognize that they share responsibility and invest together in modernizing their information governance practices to enable rigorous compliance and defensible disposal,” said Deidre Paknad, founder of CGOC and president/CEO of PSS Systems, in a news release on the results.

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