Attempting to address compliance requirements, many companies have taken the brute force approach to information management by saving everything, typically in one mass repository. With regulations only rarely requiring the retention of all information, however, such a drastic approach begs the question: what exactly is the business value of retaining 15 identical copies of a Girl Scout cookie order email from 2003? If an enterprise stores everything, indefinitely, eventually IT will be forced to search through everything to find specific documents they need as proof of compliance—an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. By contrast, an increasing number of leading companies are using search-powered technologies to automatically retain, categorize and store only the information which is needed for compliance purposes or which provides business value, while simultaneously making such information instantly available to those who need it, when needed. From the enterprise’s perspective, such a search-enabled approach delivers tremendous benefits to both knowledge management and information risk management (IRM).
Search-Powered Information Access
Every enterprise manages vast amounts of heterogeneous information distributed across numerous information sources in various formats, locations and languages. The amount and types of information being generated in today’s enterprises is staggering—estimates range from 50% to 200% compound annual growth depending on the type of information—which presents tremendous challenges in managing data while also allowing knowledge workers to access the information they need securely, instantly and in context. Traditional tools for managing enterprise information require the lengthy and inefficient process of first identifying relevant information (i.e. through annotations, tagging, etc.) and then forcing such information into a single repository. Due to the highly manual nature of this process, it is rarely—if ever—successful, leaving enterprises employing such dated tools with broken information management systems at the exact time when such enterprises need more and better access to the lifeblood of their organization: their information and expertise.
The goal for any enterprise in today’s information economy is to turn information into knowledge and knowledge into competitive advantage through greater productivity and innovation. Enterprises with tools allowing their employees to quickly, securely and accurately access information and expertise across the entire enterprise—and frequently outside the enterprise as well—create a distinct competitive advantage for themselves. Further, by enabling their users to view information completely in context, including the customer/project/group/geography/people to which such information relates, end users are empowered to make better decisions and to be more productive. The result is end users are able to find the information they need far more efficiently (and with much less frustration) without losing valuable time. And with the aid of tools which automate as much of this information management process as possible, the burden on users and the IT department is dramatically reduced. In turn, the additional time saved by more efficient and accurate information access can be spent on high value, revenue-producing work—such as finding optimal solutions to business issues facing the enterprise. Important in a normal economic cycle, search-powered information access has become critical in a time of mass layoffs, shrinking budgets and stagnating revenue growth.
Enterprise Information Risk Management
From the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 to the 2006 revisions to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to today’s relentlessly increasing regulatory scrutiny, enterprises also face a growing number of challenges relating to the retention, control and access of enterprise content, including business records. And with the aforementioned explosive growth of enterprise data, including email, enterprises are finding the time and cost of maintaining information for compliance and e-discovery purposes skyrocketing.
In response to these challenges, enterprises have been exploring various technologies to assist with the identification, classification and management of enterprise data from numerous sources—including email, network and file shares, databases and content management systems such as Microsoft’s SharePoint Server—to enforce data retention/recycling policies, enhance e-discovery capabilities and reduce storage and management costs. The solution was not far away: search-powered applications, used not for information access but for managing vast amounts of data automatically. This approach has been quite successful as it allows an enterprise to:
- centralize the retention, disposition and preservation of enterprise data;
- automatically classify, retain and recycle enterprise data; and
- demonstrate compliance with corporate policies, industry standards and legal requirements.
Due to the fact that compliance and e-discovery present the same challenge as know-ledge management—namely the automated organization, categorization, security and precise accessibility of information—the same technology used for better information access can be utilized to help enterprises comply with document retention policies and compliance. Such "search-powered compliance" is powered by sophisticated but easy-to-use conceptual search technology that can automate the categorization, identification, retrieval and disposition of electronically stored information (ESI). Furthermore, such technology can be leveraged to identify, preserve and collect relevant ESI pursuant to a regulatory investigation, internal investigation or lawsuit, while also automatically providing deep analysis into such information—another use of features originally developed for knowledge management purposes.
In today’s business climate of massive layoffs and reduced budgets exacerbated by increased regulatory scrutiny, automating information management for compliance purposes has gone from a "nice to have" to a necessity. By leveraging search technology to help identify, store and access the right information when needed, enterprises are finding ways to overcome the challenges of information management. Regardless of the type of company, any enterprise looking to meet regulatory compliance needs should strongly consider a search-enabled solution.