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How much ‘Big Data’ should you hold onto?

While big data holds great value for companies that take the time to analyse it for insights, this does not mean you should hold onto all your data forever.

While many organisations are reducing their reliance on paper records, and storing valuable documents in secure offsite storage facilities, their electronic records continue to increase as the value of ‘big data’ becomes more recognised. This increase often ends up stored in workstation hard drives or on cloud storage systems. The former increasing the risks of data loss and security breaches, while the latter increases the costs, as more data is stored.


RIM Vs Big Data equals a stalemate

Records management policies and programmes aim to increase legal compliance while reducing litigation exposure, by getting rid of records and data that has reached the end of its retention period. Advocates of big data, on the other hand, want to hold on to as much data as possible for analysis. In fact, many organisations now find themselves with corporate cultures that hold onto electronic records longer than is necessary.

This propensity for hoarding data often works against RIM policy and records managers as the desire or fear of losing data wins the day.

This forces us to raise the question of, ‘how much ‘big data’ should you hold onto?’

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer as every organisation’s needs, usage, and risk exposure will vary. Rather the question is meant to highlight the need to assess your records and information policy as well as your electronic data collection and usage.

Big data advocates can undeniably argue that big data has great value while records managers can equally argue their point that compliance and litigation risks, among others, need to be mitigated. The truth is both sides are looking at the same coin, so to speak, albeit from different angles. Thus, there is a clear need to work together and find a productive if not workable compromise.


RIM plus Big Data equals win-win

How can your organisation achieve a win-win situation? The answer… communication.

Communication, (talking and listening) allows for an exchange of ideas. If records managers see a different view of the coin to that of big data analysts, then there is an opportunity for both parties to share their insights and reasoning into why they see value in their approaches.

In broad terms records managers should explain the benefits of protecting their organisation from compliance issue and data breaches. These benefits may include:

  • Maintaining trust in the organisation
  • Preventing profit loss due to litigation
  • More efficient records and data management and information access
  • Stronger positioning for tenders due to better compliance

Likewise, big data advocates and analysts need to explain the benefits of retaining data. These could include:

  • Trends into buyer behaviour can aid the sales team in closing more sales
  • Demographic insights might assist marketing to place ads in better locations
  • Product usage data may help product development teams create better products



In the end records managers may need to loosen the reins somewhat on how long data is kept while big data analysts will probably need to be more picky, about which data actually has value and which data is redundant or obsolete and can therefore, be disposed of.


Need to protect your company’s Big Data? Contact Iron Mountain today for a solutions tailored to your needs.


Image Credit:  Copyright: archerix / 123RF Stock Photo


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