We shrug off the extra pounds gained over the festive season with a New Year diet. Franchises need to do the same when it comes to data
Two years ago, the world had generated roughly 3.5 zettabytes of data – this monumental amount is the equivalent to 600 billion DVDs of data. By 2020, it is estimated that we will be generating over ten times that amount of data. However, predictions have also shown that by 2016, we will produce data faster than we can store it. We are consuming and creating more data than ever before and if we want to prevent an overload, we need to become data diligent.
We need to look at data like we would food in our own diet. Is excess and unnecessary data making your business sluggish? Is your business guilty of hoarding countless e-mails and large media files? If you feel that your business is overloaded by excess data, maybe you need a data detox. With help from our data savvy friends at Seagate, we have hatched a plan to help fight excess data and kick your business into shape.
Data storage and disk space have their limits therefore in a business it is essential that you understand what data is important and what isn’t, says Izak Oosthuizen, senior consultant at Exec Sys, the IT support firm. “The key to successfully managing data storage is achieving a better understanding of your information and its actual value. With data volumes rapidly growing, 2015 will become a more challenging year than ever for businesses to effectively backup, store and access information – without requiring costly sources.”
“Most companies often don’t know what information they’re storing, so it’s important to keep on top of what you’re stockpiling and ask yourself why you’re keeping this information. If you can’t think of a legitimate answer then it’s best to get rid of it,” adds Bostjan Bregar, co-founder and CEO of 4th Office, a cloud collaboration company. Smarter thinking is needed to manage data and by educating employees on smarter data management businesses could save a packet on storage costs and on time, too – when your limit is reached and data needs to be reorganised.
Devise a data policy
Work with your team to determine what data is essential and where it should be stored. Files that need to be regularly accessed may be appropriately stored on the local network whereas others may be stored on hard drives. Bregar advises adopting a two-way structure of minimising excess data, where all employees self-manage their personal data, alongside a company policy on shared data. “Prioritise your data into ‘important’, ‘not important’, ‘to trash’ and ‘archive.’ Delete everything that’s irrelevant and archive important stuff that you don’t need to access on a regular basis.” By enforcing data policies, businesses can keep on top of their data management in order to reduce costs and quickly access relevant data.
Peter Connell, managing director of CallPro, the CRM provider, suggests that multiple databases are crucial to companies as each department will have its own that works in different ways. By devising a data policy for these multiple databases, each department is able to function efficiently without unnecessary data clogging up the system. Devising rules for the nature and amount of content stored can help to not only manage excess data but organise existing data and allocate it to an appropriate database.
Time for a system spring clean
Scan your hard drives regularly and delete all unnecessary files. There are a number of tools available to assist with scanning drives and filtering through data that can be discarded easily and safely. Email management tools can help to clear large volumes of disk space by identifying old emails and outdated attachments. Filter out junk emails that waste valuable space.
Bregar advises businesses to have a tidy-up of their data – and sooner rather than later. “It’s time that businesses and individuals start making a conscious decision about what to do with excess data. This starts with managing data daily and actioning it regularly,” he says. Regular spring cleans will ensure that excess data is tackled and highly sought after storage is accessible. Personal data and emails could be transferred off of the local network and hard drives and onto the personal hard drives of employees.
The majority of businesses duplicate documents – often multiple times – which can create masses of unnecessary data. You can free up storage by only duplicating certain documents as opposed to all and by storing them on separate external hard drives and cloud-based storage. Important duplicated documents that are accessed less often could be moved to lower-cost storage options in order to save money.
De-duplication when done properly can also minimise time spent hunting for necessary documents. Connell believes that by managing data in bulk and de-duplicating documents, data can be accessed easily and more importantly, quickly. Managing data efficiently can save time and resources and freeing up storage now will save time in the future as more content is curated. “By keeping only most current file versions and removing duplicates, savings of up to 30% space can be achieved,” Oosthuizen adds.
Backing up data within a business is essential to ensure that trade is not eternally lost should a system malfunction or server failure occur. However, backing up data should be carried out efficiently and securely. Data management is still obligatory even if you have access to extra storage. Remain vigilant with deleting excess data and do not keep old data for the sake of it. E-mails can be backed up on cloud-based email archives to avoid losing important e-mails that are often automatically deleted after just 14 days.
Businesses should ensure that their data is backed up safely on a secure hard drive or cloud system to be able to restore it in a data loss event. Oosthuizen advises: “It is also worth ensuring important backups are stored outside of an office building, with some kind of offsite backup solution. It could be as simple as backing up data on storage devices which are taken offsite or setting up and automated cloud backup.”
However, Bregar warns that we are putting our data in too many places and this can be a dangerous game to keep track of. Scattered IP can have detrimental consequences on a business if not successfully managed.
There you have it, now there’s no excuse for reaching storage limits and holding onto countless unnecessary emails and those pictures from the office party. Oosthuizen is a fierce proponent of good data management. “With the multiple pressures that data growth volumes place on a business, it’s critical to understand the location and nature of data and rationalise approaches to its management. This will not only help to avoid compliance risks, but save significant costs associated with backup resources and poor efficiencies.”
The message is clear: shift some megabytes this month and pledge to keep on top of data management.