How should businesses begin moving away from a data hoarding culture?

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Digital hoarding is something we all fall victim to. If you flick through your camera roll on your mobile phone, how many of the photos you see do you actually need? If, like me, you have thousands of pictures on there, you may also be at the same crossroads I find myself: I know I need to sort through them and free up some space, but a) I'm scared of deleting something I'll miss or need again, and b) frankly, I can't be bothered. The volume of photos has piled up to new extremes and it's just beyond my capabilities now!

Hoarding is just a part of human nature. Of course, we don't stop being human when we're at work, so it's no surprise that businesses too have a hoarding culture.

Since data has become such hot property, businesses are reluctant to let any of it go. However, it has to reach a spilling point eventually, and as we continue to produce more data on a daily basis, it is becoming increasingly imperative for businesses to restrategise and handle their data more wisely.

The risks associated with data hoarding are many. In particular, it can cause significant cost implications. As well as the storage costs, data hoarding makes businesses susceptible to breaching security, legal, and compliance regulations. In turn, businesses may find themselves coughing up a hefty fine, as well as damage their reputation.

What's more, and perhaps rather obviously, large volumes of data will slow down business workflows. With these in mind, a declutter of enterprise data has never been more of a necessity.

Time for a digital declutter

Getting started requires that organisations clearly define the data that is critical to their business to begin creating a cultural shift. Increasingly, businesses are hiring Chief Data Officers to spearhead this and outline what stays and what goes.

Once firmly outlined, businesses can begin an initial clear-out as per the new parameters. All data should be moved to one place by drawing from every data store to make organising much easier. Businesses will be surprised to see just how much unnecessary data they have, such as Christmas party photos (which everyone probably has on their phones/social media anyway), unfinished documents, even entire accounts belonging to employees long past.

Then, organisations should strategise communication with the workforce to get them on board with the culture shift. Most importantly, employees must be familiar with what data is valuable or not to the business, as well as the implications of keeping unnecessary data. In turn, employees will have the know-how moving forward to rid anything they don't need as they go.

Despite employees doing their bit, a second pair of eyes is never a bad thing. Thus, organisations should schedule periodic clear-outs (perhaps quarterly) for reinforcement.

Enjoy this article? Why not check out our CxO of the Week, George Kurian at NetApp?