Losing control over information sprawl at enterprises can cause long-term inefficiencies. But it's the short-term legal headaches of not being prepared for E-discovery requests that have caught many firms off-guard.
Potentially massive savings can be had from thwarting legal discovery fulfillment problems in advance by governing and managing information. In a sponsored podcast, I recently examined how the well-managed -- versus the haphazard -- information oversight approach reduces legal risks. Yet these same management lifecycle approaches bring long-term payoffs through better analytics, and regulatory compliance, while reducing the cost of data storage and archiving.
Better understand the perils and promise around information management with guests Jonathan Martin, Vice President and General Manager for Information Management at HP, and Gaynelle Jones, Discovery Counsel at HP. The discussion is moderated by me, BriefingsDirect's Dana Gardner.
Here are some excerpts:
Martin: Over the last five to 10 years, we've become increasingly addicted to information, both at home and at work. ... and the size of it is beginning to really impact businesses. This trend is that information tends to either double every year in developing countries, and tends to double about every 18 months in developed organizations. Today, we're creating more information than we have ever created before, and we tend to be using limited tools to manage that information.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Download or view the transcript. Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett Packard.
We're getting less business value from the information that we create. ... Unfortunately, in the last 18 months or so, the economy has begun to slow down, so that concept of just throwing more and more capacity at the problem is causing challenges for organizations. Today, organizations aren't looking at expanding the amount of information that's stored. They're actually looking at new ways to reduce the amount of information.
Coming into 2010, both in the US and in Europe, there is going to be a new wave of a regulation that organizations are going to have to take on board about how they manage their business information.
Jones: Because we have black-letter law that computerized data is discoverable if relevant, and because of the enormous amount of electronic information that we are dealing with, litigants have to be concerned with discovery, in identifying and producing it, and making sure it's admissible.
I'm charged here [at HP] with developing and working with both the IT and the litigation teams around making sure that we are compliant, and that we respond quickly to identify our electronically stored information, and that we get it in a form that can be produced in the litigation.
There are horror stories that have been in the news in recent years around major companies such as Morgan Stanley, Enron, Qualcomm and a host of others being sanctioned for not following and complying properly with the discovery rules. ... In each case, companies failed to properly implement litigation rules, directly pointing to their failure to properly manage their electronic information. So the sanctions and the penalties can be enormous if we don't get a hold of this and comply.
We've seen, over the last few years, organizations move from taking a very reactive approach on these kinds of issues to a more proactive or more of a robust approach.
Martin: You have to be able to identify and manage the information and think ahead about where you're likely to have to pull it in and produce it, and make a plan for addressing these issues before you have to actually respond. When you're managing a lot of litigation, you have to respond in a quick timeframe, by law. You don't have time to then sit down and draw up your plan.
[Not being prepared] makes the process at least twice as expensive, than if you've planned ahead, strategized, and know where your information was, so that when the time comes, you could find it and preserve it and produce it.
Over the last two to three years, organizations have begun to take a more proactive approach. They're gathering the content that's most likely to be used in an audit, or that's most likely to be used in a legal matter, and consolidating that into one location. They're indexing it in the same way and setting a retention schedule for it, so that when they're required to respond to litigation or are required to respond to an audit or a governance request, all the information is in one place. They can search it very quickly.
At first, the problem statement may look absolutely enormous. ... What we're seeing, though, is that organizations that went through this shift from reactive to proactive two to three years ago have actually generated a new asset within the organization. ... They ultimately end up with a brand-new repository in the organization that can help them make better business decisions, leveraging the majority of the content that the organization creates.
If you logically think through the process, as an organization, you are taking a more proactive stance. You're capturing all of those emails, you're capturing content from file systems and your [Microsoft] SharePoint systems. You're pulling sales orders. You get purchase request from your database environment. You're consolidating maybe miles and miles of paper into a digital form and bringing all of this content into one compliance archive.
This information is in one place. If you're able to add better classification of the content, a better way of a layer of meaning to the content, suddenly you have a tool in place that allows you to analyze the information in the organization, model information in the organization, and use this information to make better business decisions.
The final step, once you've got all that content in one place, is to add a layer of analytic or modeling capability to allow you to manipulate that content and respond quickly to a subpoena or an audit request.
Jones: We're working right now on putting an evidence repository in place, so that we can collect information that's been identified, bring it over, and then search on it. So, you can do early electronic searches, do some of the de-duping that Jonathan has talked about, and get some early case assessment.
Our counsel can find out quickly what kind of emails we've got and get a sense of what the case is worth long before we have to collect it and turn it over to our outside vendors for processing. That's where we're moving at this point.
We think it's going to have tremendous benefit for us in terms of getting on top of our litigation early on, reducing the cost of the data that we end up sending outside for processing, and of course, saving cost across the board, because we can do so much of it through our own management systems, when they're in place. We're really anxious and excited to see how this is going to help us in our overall litigation strategy and in our cost.
Martin: Increasingly, we're seeing more and more content move into the cloud. This is may be coming from a top-down initiative, or from a cost or capability perspective. Organizations are saying, "Maybe it's no longer cost effective for us to run an email environment internally. What we'd like to do is put that into the cloud, be able to manage email in the cloud, or have our email managed in the cloud.”
Or, it may come from the grassroots, bottom up, where employees, when they come to work, are beginning to act more and more like consumers. They bring consumer-type technology with them, something like Facebook or social networking sites. They're coming to the organization to set up a project team and to set up a Facebook community, and they collaborate using that.
So we're seeing either top-down or grassroots-up content moving into the cloud. From a regulatory perspective, a governance perspective, or a legal perspective, this has new implications for the organizations. A lot of organizations are struggling a little bit on how do they respond to that.
... How do you discover this content, how are you required to capture this content, or are they the same, legal obligations, the content that's inside your data center of this various IT data centers? How do you address applications, maybe mashups, where content may be spread across 20 to 30 different data centers. It's a whole new vista of issues that are beginning to appear as content moves into the cloud.
Jones: The courts haven't yet addressed the cloud era, but it's going to definitely be one for which we're going to have to have a plan in place. The sooner you start being aware of it, asking the questions, and developing a strategy, the better. Once again, you're not being reactive and, hopefully, you're saving money in the process.
Martin: Probably one of the best ways to learn is from the experience of others. We've invested quite heavily over the last year in building a community for the uses of our products, as well as the potential use of our products, to share best practices and ideas around this concept of information and governance that we've been talking about today, as well as just broader information management issues.
There is a website, www.hp.com/go/imhub. If you go there, you'll see lots of information from former users about how they're using their technology.