I had the opportunity to attend eDJ’s Peer Group meetings last week, where the topic of discussion was information governance (IG). The Peer Group meetings are fascinating because real IG practitioners speak up about very real issues. I was struck by how daunting the challenge of truly governing information is. As electronic data grows exponentially, managing the risk that information poses is harder and harder. For every effort a company takes to safeguard information, employees create a workaround if that effort impinges on the velocity of information. In turn, those workarounds lead to a vicious circle of eDiscovery nightmares.
A major issue that comes up for companies is over-preservation when conducting legal holds. Many companies are now mature enough to create aggressive retention policies to undertake defensible disposition of information. That sounds good in theory, but can be difficult to implement in practice. One member of the group shared a story about email retention policies. The company instituted a 90-day email deletion policy whereby messages in users’ inboxes were deleted after 90 days. Employees, however, simply created rules to forward all messages to themselves every 89 days, making the message new again. Thus, email was never truly being destroyed.
A member of the group brought up positive experiences with individual training of employees. In this case, when working with a specific employee that might be hording information or creating preservation issues, the Peer Group member was able to induce behavior change by educating the employee about how bad practices impact the company. The question is: how scalable is that one-on-one training in large organizations? Another Peer Group member was thinking about making abiding by retention rules part of an employee’s performance review so that it affects bonus compensation.
Our discussion did not solve the problem; rather, everyone agreed that some kind of auto-classification of content will eventually be needed. What is exciting is that these technologies are gaining active experience in the eDiscovery market via Technology-Assisted Review (TAR). TAR techniques like predictive coding can gain traction in eDiscovery, gain acceptance and be refined, and then be applied upstream to information governance. Meanwhile, companies still need to address managing the risks of information today and judging from the discussion, I’d say that preservation and legal hold are a top concern of many.
eDJ Group is kicking off research on the State of Information Governance with a survey that looks at general IG and retention/preservation issues. Respondents will be entered to win a $250 gift card. The survey takes less than 5 minutes – we hope you will share your experience with us. Click here to take the survey and get your chance to win.