One of the things I love most about my job is that I spend a lot of time talking to clients. They each bring a unique perspective depending on their role or industry. An attorney at a large bank and an IT manager at a small manufacturer are unlikely to share many of the same concerns or goals. To that end, when I do come across a concept that can be applied uniformly across industries and roles, it’s a bit of a surprise.
Last week I was on a call where a prospective customer referred to the data he was trying to manage as fluid. This is a concept that all professionals who are trying to manage unstructured data can relate to. In modern business parlance, “fluid” tends to have a similar positive connotation as words like agile or mobile. However, when it comes to managing data, its fluidity can be a real challenge. Like a liquid, data tends to disperse, and tends to leak when moved. Here’s how this concept applies to some of the groups we generally work with.
- In-House Legal Departments:
eDiscovery and review teams seem to have the most pronounced love-hate relationship with the fluidity of data. On one hand, they want to be able to use a myriad of tools to review and analyze information as it relates to a case. This has traditionally meant pulling data from its source location and transferring it from one tool to the next, or to outside counsel. At the same time, each instance of moving information from one point to the next is another chance to “leak” data. Since chain of custody concerns have never been higher, consolidation to simpler review processes appears to be the new trend.
- Records and Information Management (RIM):
Records Managers increasingly have to deal with the dispersal effects of data’s fluid nature. Here’s a common example of what I mean: I create a document and save it to my fileshare. I then attach that document and send it to four people, two of whom save the attachment to different SharePoint sites while another moves the attachment into their ECM. The document is now in five different places, where retention is set according to different standards and where search is performed by disparate search engines. How do I sync retention? How do I search across these separate puddles of information?
There’s a desirable solution, although for many companies today it seems much easier to articulate than to implement.More and more we are hearing about the need for creation of a singular data “lake” at the base of the corporate ecosystem. Production systems like Exchange, SharePoint, fileshares, or even enterprise content management tools are left untouched in the end user’s view. However, the created data can trickle down -- or at least be managed from -- a central reservoir and point of control that is fed from all corporate systems. From here, retention can be set and synced across all platforms. eDiscovery can be performed without chain of custody concerns. Rather than fighting the fluid nature of data, companies can now harness it for their advantage.