As the information tide relentlessly rises, many organizations simply see an IT problem, to be fixed with a purely IT solution – more storage capacity, more tools, or both. But merely adding more storage is a reaction, not a strategy. And adding technology tools without the right governance rules invariably makes things worse, not better.
This is not a criticism of your IT team. Instead, the problem lies in a misunderstanding of the fundamental challenge. Just as you shouldn’t bring a knife to a gun fight, you shouldn’t merely bring more storage capacity and IT tools-without-rules to your fight to regain control over your organization’s information. What’s needed is governance.
More Storage is Not the Answer
If the accelerating, worldwide growth of data were a throw-back movie, it would star Vin Diesel – Fast & Furious. It’s hard to wrap one’s head around the magnitude and velocity. Try this – for context, the total content of all catalogued books in the Library of Congress has been estimated variously at 10 to 15 terabytes of data. IDC’s Data Age 2025 study pegged the world’s 2018 data volume at 33 zetabytes (33 billion terabytes), and forecasted that data volume will reach 175 zetabytes by 2025, a more than quadruple increase. In case your head hasn’t exploded … apparently 1,000 zetabytes is a yottabyte, and as of yet there is no officially recognized International System of Units name for 1,000 of those (I propose “Lottabyte”).
Why the dizzying growth? Internet use is certainly a contributor (a lot can happen there each minute). But it is the Internet of Things, combined with the Industrial Internet, that will increasingly generate gobsmacking quantities of device and machine data.
Let’s hone in on the reality faced by individual organizations. Unstructured data (documents, spreadsheets, presentations, audio and video files, email, and the like) can comprise 80% to 90% of total enterprise data. Unstructured data is often largely uncontrolled, scattered across network drives, user’s computers, and the organization’s electronic content management (ECM), collaboration, and e-communication systems.
Veritas’ Data Genomics Project produced an interesting 2016 study that analyzed tens of billions of unstructured data files, with over 8000 file extensions, at Fortune 500 companies. Key finding? Storage capacity grows each year, but so does data volume – 39% annual growth in the number of unstructured data files, year over year. Just as a bigger closet or garage at home results in the accumulation of more stuff, when businesses add larger on-premise or cloud repositories without governance controls, it inevitably leads to larger data volumes. More storage simply enables more data hoarding.