Monster Ant“What if ants were as big as dinosaurs?”  I remember asking my kids that question, forever ago when they were young.  Maybe the thought came from reruns of old monster movies, like the 1954 classic Them! (pictured here).  Anyway, it was a cool game, for as the ant’s size multiplies, the laws of math, physics, and biology play their part:

  • The ant’s exoskeleton wouldn’t be strong enough to support the increased weight, so an internal skeleton is needed.
  • Gravity would play havoc with the ant’s open circulatory system, so a closed system is crucial.
  • The ant’s energy needs would soar, and so a different diet and digestive system are required.
  • The ant’s newfound size would totally alter its place in the food chain (The Lion King, “Circle of Life,” right?), driving fundamental changes in behaviors and capabilities.
  • And on, and on.

Until, we finally end up with an ant the size of a dinosaur … that looks a lot like a dinosaur.

But what’s this have to do with Information Governance?


Continue Reading Ants, Dinosaurs, and Information Governance

Bean of Chicago Millennium Park, Illinois, USAIt happens every day.  A company spends a huge amount of money on a new technology system, without fully addressing the information implications.  Maybe the decision (to move on-premise operations to a cloud SaaS or PaaS, or to retire and replace an enterprise database, or buy a comprehensive new tool suite) was reactive, driven by an impending crisis.  Maybe the decision-making was siloed, with IT not clearly hearing what the rest of the business truly needs (or more likely, the rest of the business not speaking up).  Or maybe IT just responded literally to a business directive of the moment (let’s get into IoT, or Big Data, or Blockchain!).  Regardless, the green light is lit, the dollars are spent … and problems ensue, painfully multiplying the procurement’s all-in cost.

What was missing? Strategic consideration of repercussions for information compliance, risk, and value for the organization as a whole, including privacy, data security, retention/destruction, litigation discovery, intellectual property, and so forth.  In other words, Information Governance.  And when was it missing?  Before the decision was made and the dollars were spent.

So, what if something could be hard-wired into the procurement process, a trigger that timely prompted decision-makers to call time-out; get focused input from all stakeholders; assess the repercussions for information compliance, risk, and value; and align the procurement requirements and purchase decisions with organizational strategy for governing information?


Continue Reading X Percent for Information Governance

A metal cattle brand with the word brand as the marking areaThe “business case” for information governance often focuses solely on quantifying specific costs for data management and exposures for data security and ediscovery.  Number crunching is of course important, but it misses something bigger, more strategic, and ultimately more crucial to the organization – its brand.  Companies, regardless of industry, are fundamentally in the information business.  It follows that how an organization manages its information assets reveals how the organization manages itself.  And that matters, a lot, because companies that align themselves with their brand, achieving brand discipline, are more successful.

Continue Reading Why govern your information? Reason #8: It can build – or bust – your brand

3d blue cubes come together from different directions. Dr. Stephen Covey reminded us that “important” is not the same thing as “urgent.”  Records retention reminds us that important is not the same thing as exciting.  I get it – records retention schedules are boring.  But the fact remains that literally thousands of records retention requirements apply to your organization’s information.  I know, because my firm finds and tracks these laws as part of our many years of retention schedule work for clients across industries.  And your regulators expect you to know them too.


Continue Reading Why govern your information? Reason #11: Thousands of federal and state records retention laws apply to your company

Image of one hundred bill burning on black background“If your clients don’t have a records management system, they may as well take their money out into the parking lot and set it on fire.”

– U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge John Facciola (now retired, and missed)

We all know that ediscovery is expensive, and various research reports have so confirmed. The 2012 Rand study, Where the Money Goes: Understanding Litigant Expenditures for Producing Electronic Discovery, found that median costs for collection, processing, and review are $17,507 per gigabyte (roughly 3,500 documents or 10,000 e-mails).  The math is not pretty – a case involving 482 GBs of source data could exceed $8 million in ediscovery costs.

And on top of that are preservation costs. The 2014 Preservation Costs Survey demonstrated that large companies incur significant fixed costs for preservation (for in-house ediscovery personnel and also for procurement and maintenance of legal hold management and data preservation technology systems), averaging $2.5 million annually.  More significant is the cost of employee time lost in complying with legal holds.  While companies with up to 10,000 employees incur the average time cost of over $428,000 per year, costs for the largest companies exceed $38 million per year.

There is indeed great complexity in how to cost-effectively process huge amounts of data through the ediscovery funnel. Tighter management of ediscovery processes is important, and TAR continues to be a promising alternative to traditional review, with significant cost-savings potential.

But as we ponder how to cut costs, let’s not forget to use Occam’s razor:
Continue Reading Why govern your information? Reason #12: Unnecessary business data causes unnecessary litigation costs

Hammer ponding computer keyboardPoor data. Though more essential to business than ever before,  data is simultaneously frustrating for its inaccessibility, intimidating in its volume and complexity, distrusted for its unreliability, maligned for its management costs, and feared for its litigation, privacy, and security risks.

But let’s not cast business data as the culprit. Data is basically inert.  It sits where we store it, goes where we send it, does what we (or some system programmer) tell it to do, and is as secure as the safeguards we provide.  Data is not the “actor” – good, bad, or indifferent.  We are.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we can see that most every problem we experience with business data has its root in what people do, or fail to do, as individuals, work teams, or organizations:


Continue Reading People don’t have data problems ….