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Be “The Boss” of Dark Data

Why File Analysis Should be Music to Your Ears

The dark data conundrum explained by "The Boss"

The 1980s were a time for resurgence. The PC was introduced into the business world around the same time that the first domain name was registered, and electronic business spurred economic growth around the world. In the media, the vein of Americana that had been previously closed off for a decade came rushing back as Bruce Springsteen rode the momentum from Asbury Park to the universal stage.

But with every gold rush comes problems of control. The SEC and similar regulatory bodies were slow to react to the swift change of business, so we had to learn the hard way through subsequent events such as Enron. In The Boss’ case, no one told the people of New Jersey that blind passion isn’t always best, and a small subset developed into the cast of the Jersey Shore 20 years later. I digress.

For the most part, we’ve managed. Bruce is legitimately iconic, and countless restrictions and regulations have organizations sweating audits every quarter. But much like the Guido Rising, there’s a piece that’s increasingly rising up, presenting an undeniable threat to enterprises everywhere: their file shares.

Companies have been quick to meet the legal and regulatory demands around email and business records, but in doing so they’ve ignored latent file servers which often account for 70%+ of an organization’s content. Additionally, if you were to ask an Information Governance employee which person is responsible for file shares, most companies can’t answer that. It’s this conundrum that’s birthed the familiar colloquialism in the Information Governance world: “dark data.”

Legal and Compliance teams alike are scared of the dark, in this sense. But increasingly, we’ve seen companies toughen up, grab their flashlights, and get to work. Soon after, they’re “Dancing in the Dark” – cue Courtney Cox and the career which catapulted from 1984’s best music video. As a matter of fact, let’s turn to The Boss and answer questions around File Shares using his biggest hit.

Question 1: What’s the big deal with File Analysis? We’re good as is.

Bruce: Stay on the streets of this town, and they’ll be carving you up alright.

There was a time when companies tried to skirt email regulations, too. That has proven far too risky (read: costly). And now, the same problems are applicable to file shares. Knowing what’s in there means knowing what can be defensibly deleted. Companies protect sensitive information while preventing IP leaks. They can reduce IT cost by eliminating old, unnecessary content and preparing themselves with clean data for any future merger or acquisition. Additionally, the eDiscovery costs are greatly reduced when there’s less irrelevant content to review.

Question 2: Fine, but as I look at this data, it’s all old, and there’s tons of it. Is there any value here?

Bruce: “Man I ain't getting nowhere, I'm just living in a dump like this. There's something happening somewhere, Baby I just know that there is.”

Countering the risk of unmanaged file shares, there’s astronomical value if you can get in there and find all of your content. File Analysis followed by archiving allows organizations to delete defensibly, classify properly throughout the enterprise, identify and maintain items on legal hold, and administer ongoing governance.

At this point, you’re probably humming Bruce in your head as we speak, while also wondering how to go about this (Question 3: “Hey there baby, I could use just a little help….”). To help, the file analysis process should contain three main components:

1) File Analysis – Discover and take inventory of files, and analyze their usage 2) Content Classification – Identify all protected information – sensitive, subject to compliance, legal hold data, etc. -- and apply appropriate retention policies 3) Management and Archiving – Automate ongoing processes so your file shares run like a well-oiled machine!

Question 4: This sounds great, actually, who do I speak with?

This gun’s for hire...

My familiarity with multiple fields has shown me the importance of information governance within companies. My role in account management with ZL has given me the opportunity to see the problems large companies face in their quest for information governance. I hope to bring these problems to light while offering my personal perspective. Interests: travel, music festivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, food. Education: political science, Spanish, management. Professional background: healthcare and law.