Information Governance

A New Approach to Enterprise File Analysis and Management

Learn how enterprise file management is evolving to reduce risks and increase corporate insight


As the importance of big data grows in business, so too has regulatory attention increased to protect against its misuse. This protection comes in many forms, from financial compliance laws such as FINRA to burgeoning privacy laws like GDPR and CCPA. Big data and its usage are subject to intense scrutiny, thus it has been standard practice to manage it with intense solutions.

Changing Regulatory Landscape on Enterprise File Management

In the past, regulations tended to only target a subset of enterprise data that it deemed important. For example, SEC rule 17a-4 only requires brokers and dealers to preserve purchase and sale documents—among others—for at least six years.

However, modern regulations have begun to target not document type, rather content that can be found across a variety of data sources. Notably, privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA regulate personally identifying information (PII) that can be embedded anywhere. As a result, organizations will need the ability to manage all their information, not just a subset of it.

The frontier in this new governance field is corporate file shares: A place where information is dumped and forgotten about. Mixed throughout are a variety of valuable documents, ROT (redundant outdated and trivial) data, and even files that pose compliance risk—such as PII.

The historical approach to compliance

Historically, enterprises have relied on archiving solutions to satisfy all their compliance requirements, as most require an immutable copy. However, only a small portion of enterprise data is subject to these retention-based compliance requirements. Relying solely on this specified scope leaves most enterprise information unknown and unmanaged.

Two implications of a specified approach

First, unknown data now poses substantial risks. Without having complete insight and the ability to act on all data within the enterprise, companies run the risk of privacy violations as well as the unnecessary cost of maintaining ROT data.

Second, the potential to draw insight and extract business value from unarchived data is a huge opportunity. The emphasis on analytics in all things business has increased dramatically over the last few years. While this usually draws attention to explicit figures such as conversion data or supply chain efficiency—internal files hold the key to understanding the human side of a company. Notably, file analysis can answer questions such as who the top performers are, who knows what, who knows who, and countless other questions limited only by the imagination. It enables leaders to view the enterprise from an entirely new perspective.

Unfortunately, archiving all enterprise data is impractical. Begging the question, how then can companies govern all enterprise information and reduce dark data? The problem requires a fundamentally new approach.

A New Approach: In-Place Enterprise File Management

In-place management is the process of managing data at the source without ever moving or creating data copies. In-place systems virtually merge critical components of original files into a single platform where users can take actions such as tagging, categorizing, and even defensibly deleting documents. This process involves illuminating all dark data, applying governance to the newly found data, and reviewing customized reporting dashboards to stay on top of what’s going on. All of which provides organizations with an up-to-date and actionable view of enterprise file shares.

The process briefly outlined above follows the Files Management Framework, which organizations can use to guide their files governance efforts. To learn more on how to implement in-place file management, watch our recorded webinar where ZL Tech experts discuss the files framework and how our software can be used to manage file shares.

Grant Sturtevant is a technology enthusiast who relocated to the bay area following his undergraduate studies—receiving degrees in business economics and entrepreneurship. Knowing early on that he wanted to build a career in software, Grant is thrilled to be working with information management solutions.