Last year revealed that most organizations don’t have the right policies and systems in place to ensure protection and access to their critical long-term digital information.
A benchmark study by the Information Governance Initiative (IGI) last June revealed that while the majority of information managers know that digital records and information is at risk of not being readable in the future, their long-term preservation strategies and systems are yet to catch up.
So, what’s next for digital preservation? Here are five predictions:
Media and file formats will continue to become obsolete
Leading analyst firms such as Gartner and Forrester have been warning for some time that as formats change, software is retired and hardware becomes obsolete the data that organizations might want to keep can be lost for ever. And with the current pace of technology refresh and application decommissioning, software obsolescence is only set to increase in 2017.
A good example in 2016 was Apple confirming that it has stopped developing QuickTime for Windows and will not offer patches for issues, including security holes. This already puts .MOV files at risk of not being renderable in Windows browser as well as posing a security risk. A big headache for any organization that has invested heavily in storing their digital video assets in .MOV format.
With most organizations using hundreds of different formats and millions of files, a proactive and scalable approach is needed to ensure digital information is always in a usable supported format.
Digital preservation will step into mainstream business
Although originally the domain of archives, libraries and educational institutions, digital preservation is now being adopted by mainstream business to protect and future-proof digital information. We expect this adoption to increase in 2017 – from major corporations enhancing the value of their brand and protecting vital corporate records, to government agencies meeting mandate to retain and provide transparent citizen access to records indefinitely.
We also expect to see an increased uptake from healthcare and insurance organizations that need to keep digital records for life-times of 75 years or more, and many other organizations looking to protect intellectual property and reuse research data and digital information for product innovation and competitive advantage.
The rise of automation in digital preservation
Next year, we’ll see digital preservation becoming a more automated and seamless part of the overall information lifecycle. This will include tighter integration with Enterprise Content Management and email systems, with digital preservation systems being used to protect long-term and permanent records, reducing the cost of storage of operational systems.
Digital preservation itself is also set to become more automated, requiring less manual involvement - simplifying the challenge of keeping file formats up to date.
Use of the cloud for safeguarding digital information will rise
The cloud will play an increasingly important role during 2017 as more organizations adopt a “cloud first” approach and leverage the cost-efficiencies and inherent durability of cloud storage for safeguarding digital information. But using cloud storage alone is not enough to ensure digital content is usable in the future, and so through-out 2017 organizations will seek to combine digital preservation software with cloud storage to build highly durable hybrid (on premise/cloud) and multi-provider cloud storage environments.
Digital preservation goes mainstream
While organizations’ lack of long term digital preservation strategy was once a cause for concern, 2017 adoption is looking very positive. Digital preservation once viewed as the sole reserve of libraries and archives, is now picking up pace in mainstream business. Organizations are waking up to the increased speed of technology refresh cycles, and taking action to prevent their valuable digital information from becoming obsolete.