Corporate intellectual capital is a vast resource not confined to organised databases. Much of this asset resides in unstructured data. This typically includes Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, email, audio files and images, often spread over a multitude of repositories. According to industry experts Gartner and IDG, unstructured data is growing at the rate of 62 percent per year and, by 2022, will account for a massive 93 percent of digital data. Unstructured data is also expensive. In 2011, the Ponemon Institute identified “an average cost of $2.1 million per year to organisations who fail to properly manage their corporate intellectual capital.”
Organisations often unwittingly expose themselves to risk, unaware of just where sensitive data is. Couple the expansion of data with the ever-growing and changing requirements of federal, industry and corporate compliance and you have an idea of the potential for disaster.
The challenge this presents to Information Governance (IG) practices is enormous. It calls for collective co-operation from three groups: records management, IT and legal. Responsible for IG strategy, they need agreement on how to manage the expanse of unstructured data. To add to the conundrum is the need to maintain business user efficiency. While rules and processes are required to reduce, classify and organise unstructured data, buy-in from business users is essential. Any initiative must not only be supported by business users, but also be so automatic that compliance requires very little additional effort.