Analysts at Gartner estimate that upward of 80% of enterprise data today is unstructured. A Data Genomics Project report calculates the rate of growth for unstructured data in modern IT environments is around 40 per cent year-over-year. Now consider this, Up to 78 per cent of organisations have little or no understanding of what is going on across their unstructured data and file shares. Not only is unstructured data, big, growing and unknown it raises challenging procedural and compliance concerns.
Can you see the elephant? Or as one leading privacy advisor [Edina Csics] called it recently, “the mother of all headaches”!
Tackling the unstructured data problem requires a holistic approach and one whereby tools, training and an assessment of effectiveness, cost and risk appetite may ultimately be required.
There are many benefits to finding an approach that is both achievable and affordable for your organisation. A critical few include:
- a reduced risk of a data leak or breach (avoiding the resulting fines and reputational damage this can cause);
- reduced storage and backup requirements (cost and time savings); and
- the efficient execution of your (GDPR and other) compliance obligations.
A first and crucial step is to get answers to the questions:
- What data is stored?
- Where is it stored? and
- Who has access to it?
To do this you need to classify your unstructured data estate (on-premise and cloud). Tools such as Clearview infoboss can help you do this by collecting data, using data derivation rules to add structure to your unstructured data and in turn enable you to index the data into a single, scalable, searchable, secure and manageable store.
Of course, the simple fact that you’ve done this opens the door to other benefits like being able to efficiently service data subject rights like requests for information, erasure, rectification and so on. You can also use the store to monitor your data retention policies and start the gargantuan job of Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial (ROT) data removal. Dare I say, even commence the job of improving your data quality!
There are other potential approaches to slaying the elephant such as introducing a solution for Data Loss Prevention (DLP). But this for many organisations is a sledgehammer to crack a nut and can be expensive and perceived by many to be excessive employee monitoring. Another approach to consider is staff training, but in practice over time, how effective can this be?
Ultimately, acknowledging and then slaying the [unstructured data] elephant is about your risk appetite and willingness to find a solution that is both affordable and achievable for your organisation.