Businesses lose $10 million in potential revenue due to poorly managed data archives

By John O'Hanlon

Organisations of all sizes and across industries are drowning in data, unable to effectively mine their data archives for key insights that could ultimately improve business outcomes. However, the findings also indicate that a subset of organisations are in fact successfully leveraging their data archives and the benefits are impressive – as much as an additional $10 million (£6.4 million) in revenue from streamlined IT and customer service operations. This is according to the results of teh landmark study, “Mining for Insight: Rediscovering the Data Archive,” an IDC white paper, announced and published today by the provider of storage and information management services Iron Mountain.

The research reveals that organisations with a well-defined data archive process stand to realise value from two potential avenues: cost savings and added revenue from monetising archives. On the savings front, more than half of the organisations polled realised $1 million (£640,000) or more in savings over the past year from risk mitigation and avoidance of litigation, with the top 21 percent reporting savings of more than $10M (£6.4M). Similarly, 44 percent of organisations reaped $1 million (£640,000) or more in savings stemming from reduced operational or capital costs, with the top 18 percent capturing more than $10 million (£6.4M).

More striking is an organisation’s ability to draw new revenue from an effectively managed data archive. While 39 percent of companies surveyed benefitted from an additional $1 million (£640,000) or more in revenue, the top 15 gained more than $10 million (£6.4 million). On average, companies polled saw an additional $7.5M (£4.8 million) in new revenue streams from their data archive.

Despite leaving money on the table, the majority of organisations – 76 percent – believe they are already maximising the value of their archives, making data archiving a real blind spot for business leaders. With only 38 percent of companies using archives for business analysis, a critical process to drive additional revenue by better understanding markets, improving products and service delivery and better serving customers, it’s clear that the majority of respondents are not truly leveraging the power of their archive.

Of the 24 percent of businesses that acknowledge they could be leveraging their archives more effectively, nearly three quarters  believe they could be extracting two times or more value than they realise today, with more than a quarter believing they could gain five times or more value.

Commenting on the results of the report, Eileen Sweeney, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Data Management, Iron Mountain says: “Data archiving isn’t just about meeting legal and compliance requirements anymore. The research shows that there are real financial benefits to be realised by implementing an effective data archiving strategy. To truly leverage the power of enterprise information, organisations must first take a hard look at their data management program. Even organisations with advanced archiving processes can stand to gain cost savings and additional revenue streams.”

Sean Pike, Program Director, eDiscovery and Information Governance Research, IDC adds: “There’s a real disconnect between the value people think they’re currently realising from their archives and the potential additional revenue they could stand to gain by simply managing their data more effectively. However, organisations of all sizes and across all industries can expect to see an uptick in revenue and cost savings by revisiting their archives to fulfil business objectives. This is especially critical in today’s information-driven economy, where the key to success or failure comes down to how effectively businesses can manage data and how quickly they can act on that information.”

To help organisations bridge the disconnect between perception and reality, Iron Mountain and IDC recommend organisations implement the following processes:

  • Hire a Chief Data Officer to oversee and derive value from the data archive, while working closely with the Chief Operating and Chief Information Officers to set long-term business and data strategies.
  • Develop Information Maps of all data sources and repositories (and their value) across the organisation.
  • Implement a holistic, consistent archiving strategy that addresses data retention schedules, use cases, the value of data, necessary accessibility and archive costs.
  • Consider working with a third party vendor with specific expertise to help optimise your archiving solution while freeing up internal IT resources to focus on more strategic and innovative work.

Other Key Findings

  • More data, more problems: Most companies maintain six or more electronic archives, storing a range of structured and unstructured data.
  • Process makes perfect: A staggering 88 percent of organisations lack a uniform process for archiving across data types, making it hard to identify and access important information when needed.
  • Organisations panic when confronting information overload: Without a clear process and pressure from the top to implement Big Data programs, more than 40 percent of organisations simply archive everything to avoid investing time and resources upfront to determine what’s truly important.
  • Unclear archiving processes make data unusable: Over time, companies archiving everything quickly amass “data swamps,” making data hard to find when needed, as opposed to the “data lakes” many businesses aspire to create with a crystal clear data archiving strategy for quick and easy information retrieval.

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