Forensic Update

Reflections on information management within the legal and regulatory arena

Records Retention problem? I think not…

Posted by Johnny Lee on September 28, 2010

Paper LandfillMany organizations continue to wrestle today with what the good folks at the Association for Imaging and Information Management (“AIIM”) have deemed our “digital landfills.”  This metaphor captures well the mentality that most organizations (according to recent studies) do not, in fact, have any sort of records or data retention issue.

The majority of organizations actually suffer from a data destruction problem.  For it is the failure to defensibly destroy—rather than to retain—information that is posing new and challenging problems.  Indeed, a systematic and effective records destruction program eludes most organizations today.  And the confidence within these organizations (to sift through these landfills quickly and completely) remains quite low.

Over the last four years, AIIM has conducted its State of the ECM Industry survey with rather dismal results for what we’ll coin here as the Content-Recovery Confidence Index.  Indeed, for each of the past four years, over 35% of organizations responding to the survey are “Not Very Confident” or “Not at All Confident” in their ability, if challenged, to demonstrate that their electronic information is “accurate, accessible, and trustworthy.”

What is even more alarming is the fact that the percentage of those responding with low confidence numbers have been steadily on the rise since 2006.  ForensicUpdate has published many articles on the reasons for this—from the unfettered proliferation of data to the inexpensive cost of enterprise storage to the simple fact that many organizations have lived a “charmed life” by not having to suffer through a bet-the-company litigation or regulatory matter.  Just the same, the steady rise of organizations expressing concern in their inability to produce information under the gun (and under the microscope) can hamper an organization’s ability to convince an outside party—be it opposing counsel, customer, vendor, judge, or regulator—that the information provided is the accurate and complete record of what transpired.

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