Customers turn to us when they’re making major technical and work process changes. This should be their moment to tackle data storage and data management yet this important element is often dropped. They scale back their original programme because it’s seen as too much for their people to accept.
So they change how their teams do something but don’t tackle the why and the what. For the way data is stored to be an early casualty of a change programme is a lost opportunity.
This comes up very often when people move to the cloud. The cloud used to have almost mythical status: glorious sunlit uplands of never-ending storage, outsourced and, well, nebulous but reassuring.
Has cloud delivered all this? Not really. Though probably because we can’t switch off our habit to hoard.
Maybe we need to embrace the approach of less ‘stuff’ and Marie Kondo our data as well as our home.
Why is our data storage filled with things we don’t use?
Our innate desire to amass and add new rather than reduce and curate, is a problem. It’s like moving house. How carefully we empty our cupboards of lovingly stacked items that haven’t seen the light of day for several years, wrap them tenderly and move them to our new place. To unpack them to a different, roomier cupboard. Never to be seen again until the next house move.
We laugh at ourselves (amid the tears and tension), vowing to thin out the unnecessary in our life and yet…
It’s crazy! And we do it with data too.
Storing up data can cause big problems
It’s so easy to see clearing out data files and folders as something that we’ll get around to. But why would you invest in a system to improve your data and document management and import all your old work to trawl through? It’s not just a waste of your people’s time – you’re making it much harder for them to find what’s genuinely useful and enable them to get their work done.
There’s a wider impact too. Data storage has the same carbon footprint as aviation. It can’t be long before dataskam becomes the new flygskam. And for companies wanting to boost their triple bottom line, they need to tackle their data sooner not later.
We love any work to help a company embrace better ways of working so how can we encourage clients to change?
How to tackle data storage in technology change
Whether it’s something you outsource or do in-house, you need to set a structure for the data you keep and manage. Ask yourself as a minimum:
- Are there industry-specific regulations (such as FCA guidelines), or general ones (such as GDPR) that govern how long you hold onto certain items?
- How are you managing old versions of final documents, how many iterations do you want to keep (and why are you doing this)?
- Are you giving people time to migrate things with a hard stop after which all old data will be wiped?
- How are you delivering training and support to your data ‘protectors’ to give them tools to understand what they need to do (and how and when)?
- Can your data protectors become your future super users?
And at its heart, you must create a whole-business approach with an updated data retention and storage policy. Not led by IT but led by your business needs. In this way, you can move into your new data house with greater likelihood of delivering on a new approach to document management and data integrity.
That would definitely spark joy.
This article is based on Samantha Kinstrey’s LinkedIn article of 17 September 2019. You’re welcome to comment on her article and to share your own experience and insight.