We Can’t Throw Everything Away
“Ensuring the right information is available to users when needed is regarded as the highest business priority for large companies in 2009 . . . and the vast majority of decision-makers believe that an effective information strategy has a very significant impact on this top business goal.”
“Managing Information: Research Study on Customer Priorities and Challenges,” RONIN Corporation[1. RONIN Corporation, “Managing Information: Research Study on Customer Priorities and Challenges,” March 2009.]
In Brief. IG makes sense because organizations can’t keep everything forever, nor can they throw everything away. We need information – the right information, in the right place, at the right time. Only IG provides the framework to make good decisions about what information to keep.
If we could throw away every piece of information created and received in our institutions whenever we wanted to, there would be little need for IG. The reality, of course, is much different. Information is how we do business and, to a greater degree each year, business success is influenced by how well we manage that information. Although most information is created by individuals, “enterprises are responsible for the security, privacy, reliability, and compliance of 85%” of it.[2. International Data Corporation, “The Diverse and Exploding Digital Universe: An Updated Forecast of Worldwide Information Growth Through 2011,” March 2008. Online at, http://www.emc.com/collateral/analyst-reports/diverse-exploding-digital-universe.pdf%5D This is the role of IG.
Some information we keep because of its business value. Some we keep because of legal requirements. By some calculations, there are thousands of laws and regulations in the US alone that speak to the way organizations must manage their information. The role of IG is to parse those laws and regulations into practical policies and retention schedules that guide the organization on its proper management. Without an IG program, organizations are at risk of breaking the law.
Certain external events, such as litigation or regulatory investigations, also create special legal requirements for the management of information. In these situations, even information that could normally be thrown away has to be preserved and properly managed. Failure to do so opens an organization and its employees up to serious criminal and civil penalties, such as those spelled out in Section 802 of Sarbanes Oxley:
“Whoever knowingly . . . destroy[s] . . . any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter . . . shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.[3. US Federal Public Law 107-204, Section 802.]
We can’t throw everything away. We need some way to determine which information has value – either because of business goals or legal requirements. IG helps us with this.