In this final blog of our article series about the future of Archiving & Information Governance, we hear again from Michael Osterman, President of Osterman Research, sharing the importance of managing compliance and consequences.
Achmad Chadran: I know you touched upon some of these consequences earlier, but let's drive this point home, would you?
Michael Osterman: Sure. There are a number of consequences if you don't manage your information properly, if you don't have a good archiving platform, if you don't have good information governance. If you have an inability, for example, to produce all of the information that a regulator requires during an audit, there can be fines. There can be sanctions.
Going back to GDPR, which applies to just about any organization that has information on European residents, there are a number of fines that have been levied. We've done an analysis on this. The volume of fines is accelerating. If you go to enforcementtracker.com, you can actually keep track of these in near-real time. And you can see that, year by year, the number of fines is going up and at a fairly dramatic pace. In the case of GDPR, you can be fined up to 4% of your previous year’s annual revenue.
And if you're looking at a large company, you're looking at tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, and some companies have been hit with those. If you can't do an early case assessment, if you can't do good legal holds or a discovery without spoliation of evidence, you can lose chain of custody on information and so forth. And again, there can be some very serious sanctions that a court can impose.
There can be an Adverse Inference Instruction, which basically means you've lost that lawsuit. If somebody is threatening a wrongful termination suit, if you have good information governance and archiving capabilities, you can go into the archives and see whether or not your organization has a case. And if you don't, you can settle early. If you do, you'll have all the proof you need to defend yourself. So you need these tools to be able to do that properly.
Without good information governance and archiving, you can lose employee productivity, because employees are either going to spend a lot of time searching for old information, or they're just going to have to recreate it, which is basically costing your organization, because now you're paying employees multiple times to do the same work. And if you don't have good information governance and archiving, you basically forego the ability to query your communications content and look for patterns and insight and seek this competitive advantage. So, there are a lot of negative consequences from not managing your information.
Chadran: To what extent are information governance leaders they actually doing what they say they plan to do?
Osterman: Well, information governance is an ongoing process and it needs to be viewed not as a thing that you do, but a process that you implement. You need to implement the right processes and technologies so that you can do information governance continually over time. And this is always going to change as you add new data types. Is there a new regulation? Are there new legal requirements? Are there legal precedents that are set? And so forth. All of this is very much a moving target, and organizations are getting closer. They’re at least considering information governance, if they haven’t actually implemented it. So they are getting closer. Organizations aren’t where they need to be, but things are improving over time.
Chadran: Has there been a change in the stakeholder communities that are driving archiving and information governance approaches, solutions and processes?
Osterman: I think over time we're going to see more focus on having a Chief Compliance Officer or a Compliance Department or function. Part of their role is going to be connecting with all of the other stakeholders around the company, because they impact every part of the organization. So the compliance function is going to have to serve sort of an umbrella role in bringing together all of these stakeholders so that all of their needs can be met. Because good archiving impacts HR, impacts marketing, sales, finance, executive management, and so forth.
Chadran: In other words, to a point where “compliance” becomes not a very accurate description for all of the benefits of archiving?
Osterman: Very much so. Compliance may be the starting point, but there are lots of things you can do with archiving that go well beyond compliance.
Chadran: So, next steps?
Osterman: Well certainly establish an executive sponsor. You're going to want to have somebody who's going to be the champion for your information governance and archiving solutions. You need somebody that's going to spearhead this. Somebody to understand the requirements for information. Not just retention obligations, but what do you have to do with this information: what has to be protected, what has to be sent encrypted, what can be safely deleted, and so forth. You need to understand why archiving is important.
You need to focus on proactive archiving, really understand what it can do. Take the analytics approach to be able to gather all of this information and gain meaning from it. Finally, you need to implement the right archiving solution. There are different levels of archiving out there, a lot of them very good, but some of them not necessarily scalable. They may not archive all of the data types that you're going to need to archive in the future. And the importance of being able to extract insight and intelligence from archive data is becoming more important over time. It was a factor for fewer than a quarter of organizations about four or five years ago, and by next year, it's expected to be close to 50%.
Chadran: Fascinating insights, Michael, and really important data for rethinking policies, procedures, and solutions. Thank you again for joining me today.
Osterman: It’s been my pleasure, Achmad.
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