I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking for…

April 24th, 2016 by Guillermo Fernandez

With apologies to U2 for borrowing their lyric.

We’re all aware of the statistics. Data is proliferating. Gartner predicts that the number of connected devices will eclipse 32 billion by 2020. It’s not just computers and smartphones creating and storing information today, but also RFID tags on shipping containers, wearables monitoring your heart rate and parking meters determining space availability. In the office, it does seem at least, that technology continues to move forward. Are techniques for information management keeping pace?

Most knowledge workers experience this challenge every day. Research says on average we spend two hours a week searching through our email records looking for information. Most would agree that the vast quantity of useless email we receive makes the problem much worse, yet many workers would tell you that they could spend their entire day just reading, sorting, responding and cataloging through the email they receive on a daily basis. Email has become a primary method for organizations to communicate. It’s relatively inexpensive, fast and, in some ways, superior to phone conversations since it is asynchronous. Another advantage is email is self-archiving (supposedly). The latter reason, however, creates a major problem for information management.

Archiving Information

I believe many of us would admit that we have become somewhat lax when it comes to centrally storing important documents and information. When was the last time you saw your company roll in new file cabinets? Where are all the important documents being stored? Guess what, they’re in our email archive. The thought of taking those documents that we received in digital format and then printing them out just to file into cabinets goes against our generational struggle to go paperless, doesn’t it? So we just leave them in our mailbox or save them on our hard drive. It’s OK, though. We can perform a full-text search for those documents within Outlook, right?

The problems with this practice begin when we start to reach our quota limit for email storage. We all know what happens. We can’t send email any more until we either request more storage from IT or remove older emails from our mailbox (refer to sorting and cataloging emails, earlier). Our administrators solve the problem by suggesting we get rid of the old stuff, or worse yet, showing us how to auto-archive to a PST file. This action further isolates those important documents into files that are stored locally on our computer or notebook hard drive. Not only are the emails now beyond any chance of being centrally archived, they are more vulnerable to theft or to be lost when the employee is terminated, hard drive crashes or the PST file is deleted. Email data becomes fractured and isolated in pockets across the network which creates the potential for liabilities. Furthermore, the organization has lost control of this data, including the ability to back it up or the ability to remove these emails or disable access.

Improved Management

Organizations should centrally manage all corporate email. Message Archivers are excellent tools that improve email server performance and provide easy to use search capabilities. Features generally include the ability to automatically collect PST files and import contents into the Archiver. Users can access email and attachments on the archiver by using the robust search capabilities of the Archiver. The organization maintains management including the ability to disposition emails and create litigation holds.

As data proliferates within and outside our organizations, our tools that allow us to centrally manage valuable corporate intellectual property continue to improve. To keeping pace with the volume of information challenges our IT departments, companies, large and small must recognize how information is managed and take appropriate measures to insure proper information governance.

Posted in: Insights from VAF Blog