Today’s PowerPoint Slide: The Origins of Information Governance By the Numbers

Rather than keep them locked away in my private treasure trove, and rather than simply dump them into a SlideShare queue where they make no sense without the verbal presentation that they were designed to enhance, I thought I would start sharing some of my PowerPoint slides with you, along with my thinking behind them.

Here’s the first one.

I created this slide to illustrate the information governance problem.

Let’s start on the bottom tine of the trident in this graphic, which shows us that the cost of raw hard disk space is about 100 times less now that what it was 10 years ago (it costs less than 1% what it did ten years ago). Dramatic, but obvious to anyone who has purchased a computer in the last decade.

Now, look at the middle tine – it shows us that the money we spend on enterprise storage equipment has remained relatively unchanged over those same ten years. At first, this doesn’t seem all that dramatic. In fact, when I first show this to people, they are surprised that the enterprise storage hardware numbers haven’t gone up dramatically. The reality is that the numbers fluctuate significantly with economic conditions-like any commodity. The other factor is that we are starting the comparison near the peak of an unprecedented boom in IT spending (i.e., the dot com years). However, this misses the larger point, which is quite startling: we are spending as much on storage 10 years later, when the price of the raw materials – disk drives – has dropped to 1% of what it was.

Let’s put this in perspective with an analogy.  The average American drives 12,000 miles each year. At a rate of 30 mpg, that means he/she uses 400 gallons of fuel, at current prices of $3.00 per gallon. As such, he/she spends $1200 each year on gas. Now, if the price of gas dropped the equivalent of the price of hard drives –  from $3.00 per gallon to 3 cents per gallon, for that same $1200, he/she could drive 1.2 million miles per year, not 12,000. And that is exactly what we have been doing with digital information, as the cost of hard drives has dropped 100 times, we have continued to spend the same amount of money even though the cost is less than 1% of what it was. Clearly, we are “driving” more.

The third tine at the top of the graphic shows a natural consequence of this – the market for software to manage all this data is growing dramatically – more than doubling in the same decade.  This tracks well to the growth in interest and investment in information governance. Managing all this information is no longer a storage problem – it’s about how well we can manage, harness, and govern that information.

If you find this graphic useful, you are free to use it in your own presentations under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

I have also included the original PPT file here.


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  2. Barclay

    Thanks Doug, glad you find it of value. Stay tuned, I have a couple more slides in this vein from recent research that help to build the point as well – will post early next week. Now, off to speak at a seminar for AIIM in Calgary.

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  4. Deidre

    Right on the mark, Barclay! I think many perceive total costs to be declining, so the facts are quite helpful. Do the costs consider the back up of the data being stored? What about the cost of discovering it?

  5. Barclay

    No John, the graph doesn’t show how profit levels have evolved over the past decade, but that would be an interesting chart too.

  6. Barclay


    I believe these are straight checks written for hardware or software, so the true fully loaded cost of storing all this stuff is not reflected here (and which may be orders of magnitude greater in some areas). Here’s what’s included in IDC’s “storage software” market includes ““The storage software taxonomy includes eight functional markets: data protection and recovery, archiving (including email archiving), storage replication, storage management, storage device management, storage infrastructure, file system, and “other”. “

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