Information Governance

The Paradox of Simplicity: A Look at ZL’s Unified Archive

Why some business users don’t agree that less is more

Why some business users don’t agree that less is more

ZL Unified Archive® is often tragically misunderstood. It’s like the ‘breakfast club’ of information governance software.

Last week, I was having a conversation at a conference in Houston, and (not unexpectedly) I was asked what we do.

Such a devilishly simple question! It’s so much like sitting down in an interview and being asked who you are, where instinct dictates that you don’t stop talking until this complete stranger understands that their organization vitally needs you.

I offered a bit about our role in the IG space, ultimately opening the question to more conversation around how this particular firm manages their information. Like many other organizations, they had an ECM for records, an archive for email, a couple systems for files, a few collaborative platforms, and a host of other systems: a fleet of software and tools for different parts of the business, all accomplishing different needs.

I responded that, ideally, our solution captures all of that content and manages it within a single unified platform for long-term governance. I pitched the product… perhaps too soon. It was not particularly pointed and definitely premature.

Their response stayed with me though, because it raised an issue that businesspeople are well aware of, but vendors often fail to discuss.

“Put all our information in one place? No, that would create a whole mess of problems!”

The conversation seemed like it was over, but I can guess where it might have headed. One problem -- or likely several -- in the mess she was anticipating, was undoubtedly related to how a transition like this would affect their various business users. It’s the main concern among all technology initiative stakeholders, and for good reason. To this individual, our “streamlined” single-platform approach didn’t sound like a solution to a problem; it sounded like the problem itself.

It doesn’t matter if you have the best technology on earth. Because it will be shelved without solid user adoption.

In this person’s mind, implementing our system would mean taking away all existing systems and reworking the everyday tasks of records management personnel, the legal team, and even everyday employees with a mailbox and a few files in SharePoint. A nightmare, indeed; I would’ve walked away too! But here’s the thing — like a nightmare, this fear is not real.

Implementing ZL Unified Archive® does not require the vast changes anticipated, hence the misunderstanding. It may be as pervasive or discreet as the organization desires. Many of our customers do choose to use the system as a total front-end solution, but I know of plenty others where over 99% of the organization doesn’t even know ZL exists -- even though their information exists within it and is used every day.

ZL UA doesn’t always strive to replace the collaborative, records, eDiscovery, and other applications near and dear to the end-user. It coincides. It has a place in large part because many organizations have found they cannot truly claim control of their information without unifying it on a single platform from which to search, apply universal and defensible retention, and take meaningful action on.

To wrap up with a lazy, loosely-fitting cliché: I’m saying you can have your cake and eat it too.

I’m a University of Michigan grad, where I studied chemistry and statistics. Unsurprisingly, my work is now in the tech field as a Client Implementations Lead at ZL. Outside of work, I surround myself with good music and good friends. A well-seasoned traveler, my interests span the affairs of many cultures, with the sole exception of Ohio. I would like to note, however, that Ohio does boast top notch highway service plazas, which make it one of the best states to drive straight through. Today, much of my time is spent driving through the golden hills of the bay area. I miss pond hockey, rainfall, and occasionally the eastern time zone. But In-and-Out sooths the pain.