The #2014WorldCup has been in full swing for a few weeks now and is one of the hottest trending topics discussed on social media, by any calculation. It’s fun to talk about, it’s cross-cultural, it’s competitive, and, crucially, it’s exciting. Here in the United States, it has been an especially prevalent conversation piece because of the United States Men’s National Team’s (#USMNT) unexpected, almost Cinderella-like success in the Group Play stage of the World Cup Tournament.
An unusual suspect, in a harsh, competitive environment, exceeding expectations!
Unfortunately, here in the United States, we have also been subject to another trending topic: the #IRSemailscandal. Though the debate has been fraught with politicization and finger pointing, the crux of the issue boils down to this fact: the IRS could not produce old emails from one of its officials that could have proven or disproven allegations of wrongdoing. We might expect this type of misstep from an organization who doesn’t have the means or the reach to correctly attack a data management problem, especially one that isn’t accustomed to audits, but we certainly wouldn’t expect it from the IRS.
An unusual suspect, in a harsh environment, drastically failing to meet expectations!
If you’re reading this blog, you likely have a professional interest in managing data to avoid this exact type of situation. You’ll read thinkpieces, tweets, and Facebook posts – much like this one – by vendors who say the IRS had the wrong product: they didn’t have this feature or that alert. And that may be true. But what the IRS was really lacking was vision.
They didn’t look far enough ahead. They didn’t understand the value of their data. And, worst of all, they didn’t understand the consequences. Now we, as private enterprises, often make two of those three same mistakes: we don’t look far enough ahead, and we don’t understand the value of our data.
Often we limit our vision for information management to this budget cycle, or perhaps the next one, and think, “What requirements do I need to meet right now?” Instead, we should be asking ourselves, “What requirements will I need to meet 5 years from now?” We look at the current state of regulations, rather than its trend and direction. This kind of thinking is often encouraged by organizations to keep costs low, and it works – right now. But pretty soon, 5 years from now becomes right now, and those organizations find themselves with some catching up to do. That catching up is expensive, but it’s even more expensive if they get caught behind the curve in litigation or by a regulatory agency.
Even if we set aside the cost of inadequate discovery and supervision efforts, our data holds its own unique value. We can study productivity, professional connectivity, employee contentedness, deadline management, and a million other things with data we already have to capture! Instead of saving a few bucks on your solution and your infrastructure, go the extra mile and make it work for you! Increase earnings and decrease costs in the long run, don’t get caught making a short-sighted decision trying to pinch pennies.
Now, you and I already know the consequences if we fall short - personally or professionally - in data management: we get pegged for thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars by someone like the SEC, FINRA, or, ironically, the IRS. Unfortunately for them, the IRS is just now learning this lesson, albeit through a hot spotlight and hefty dose of public scrutiny. Let’s see… what’s a five-character word for this situation?#Fail