Data, data, data. It seems you can’t go anywhere today without hearing how important data is to your company’s success in digital transformation. But the fact is, having too much data can actually bog your company down—leaving it vulnerable to security breaches and clogging up your ability to make smart, quick, data-backed decisions. That’s why every company that collects data today also needs to create a data purge strategy to dump that data when the time is right.
Don’t be a Data Hoarder: Create a Data Purge Strategy
Have you ever watched one of those reality TV shows about hoarders? From the comfort of our couches, we can see that it makes no sense for people to store and cling on to mounds of “stuff” that is offering little value or meaning to their lives. It makes houses messy—sometimes even dangerous. The same is true when it comes to hoarding data.
There are multiple benefits to creating a data purge strategy. Three of the biggest are as follows:
- Save money from storage costs: As affordable and efficient as storing data on the cloud often seems, it certainly isn’t free. Indeed, your cloud provider may even charge early deletion fees for removing data before a certain time period. Long story short: they run a business, just like you do. And their business model is to maximize the amount they earn from companies who don’t yet understand the importance of data purge strategy! Remember this: the less you are storing, the less you’re paying them to store. So, take time to make sure that every piece of data is worth its weight in storage space—and revisit that pool of data regularly to keep it under control.
- Protect yourself and your company. The more data you have, the more difficult it is to keep your data safe. As such, storing unnecessary data leaves you open to security threats that could be avoided if you had taken time to trim the load. Remember: your company doesn’t just lose money during a data breach. It also loses consumer confidence, which could cost your company far more than lost time and productivity. Why risk that by storing information you don’t even need?
- Make it easier to make data-back decisions. You know the phrase, “too many cooks in the kitchen?” Your data can suffer from a similar problem. When you have too much information from too many places, it can be hard to pull it cleanly and use it strategically. Before you know it, your data pool is a mess of old information that is no longer applicable in your current market. It’s useless! So, you need to pare it down to keep it pertinent and useful.
Data Purge Strategy vs. Data Purge Policy
Though we’ve focused on creating a data purge strategy, I also want to touch on how to create a data purge policy. After all, purging shouldn’t just happen once. It should happen consistently over time to keep your data clean and safe. A data purge policy can make the process easier to perform consistently in the future.
Some of you may already be working under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which stipulates in part that any customer at any time can ask that their data be deleted completely. Having a purge strategy in place can help you understand how to completely remove all traces of the data from your servers and stay in compliance with the rules. Indeed, even if you don’t follow the GDPR, it’s not a bad idea to start. The following are a few ideas to guide your data purge policy creation process.
- Consider how long each piece of data holds value. Note: the answer is most likely not “forever.” Apart from data specified under your industry’s compliance regulations, take time to determine specific time periods to hold various pieces of data. Keep in mind: they don’t all have to be the same, and they don’t have to stay at the same level of security protection, either.
- Consider creating a central repository. One of the greatest sources of data sprawl is the inclination for everyone in the company to hold their own versions of documents on the network, rather than accessing a centralized version of the file. To help, create a central repository of the documents accessed most often—and clear the one-off variations off the network altogether!
- Narrow the amount of data you collect. The easiest way to purge the amount of data you store is to limit the amount of data you collect. Rather than collecting every tiny piece of information you can from your customers, think strategically. Determine what is necessary to serving them better—and which is just clutter.
- Automate the process! Don’t rely on yourself or your team to keep up the purge. Use AI to keep the policy in place, performing regular purges based on the guidelines and timelines you create.
Yes, data is important in digital transformation. But the importance of purging data is something that receives far too little attention in business today. Help save money, keep decision paths clear, and keep your data safe. A data purge strategy–and policy–are all it takes.
The original version of this article was first published on Futurum.