I’ve always thought of corporate data as some of the most valuable assets a company owns.  Now not all of the data is valuable.  For instance there is likely to be data that is kicking around that isn’t required for regulatory purposes, current business needs, or that even have any historical value to the company.

Most companies would be surprised to find out that almost half of what they store has no value yet they keep spending precious budget dollars maintaining it, backing it up, and migrating it.

So what do you do to put a value to your data?

Let me explain
If your company relies on a database for its most critical business operations, and is spending more IT dollars protecting zero value data, then they may find themselves in a precarious position when the business grows beyond the means of the current infrastructure. A company could end up playing catch-up at a time when they need the capacity and protection to enable more transactions to meet increased demand or need to recover from a disaster.

Put a value on your data
Let’s say your database systems drive 75 percent of your revenue, then that is the value of the data it warehouses and the infrastructure, staff and facilities that keep it functioning optimally. By comparison the zero value data are solely a cost centre and should be viewed in that manner. Most businesses fear deleting data.  It might be needed next week, the legal department may request it next year, or we never delete data, you never know when we’ll need it are excuses all too often used.

There are tools out there to help get an understanding of what you have, how old it is, when it was last accessed, and who has access to what.  By delving into the metadata of the files and generating some reports you can understand what you have, where it is, and most importantly; how important it is.

Don’t Just Review Reports
It is critical that once the reports are generated, they need to be read and understood.  Once you have a solid understanding of what you have it’s time for action.  Rank the data you have.  What is the most valuable, next valuable and so on until you get down to zero value data.  Anything you deem as having no value should be earmarked for deletion.

This exercise can be quite liberating.  Imagine finding out that have the storage you have in your data centre could be freed up for reuse. The impact on budget can be very beneficial.  Where before the exercise you may have been struggling to fund everything you need in the current year, you can now defer storage spend and allocate that money to the next priority on your list.

My Advice
Take a look at your data. Evaluate it. Delete the zero value data and then do it all over again.

As I stated earlier there are tools that can make this a fairly easy process on an ongoing basis.  I suggest that is worthwhile looking into them.