Governance gap threatens digital preservation payoff

New research from the Information Governance Initiative (IGI) reveals that 83% of organisations aim to realise direct business value from their long-term digital information, across such areas as market analysis, product innovation, and customer service, but only a minority (16%) have a viable approach for proper governance and preservation.

The research, supported by digital preservation specialist Preservica, also highlighted that 95% of organisations surveyed have critical records which need to be preserved for ten years or more. Business functions that respondents identified as most requiring long-term digital information were Legal Operations, Financial Management and Human Resource Management.

Nine in ten companies confirmed that “legal, statutory and regulatory compliance requirements” drive the need to retain digital records and information long-term, however, the challenge of deriving value from long term digital information is also now rising in importance. The CEO was the role perceived by IG professionals to be most at risk from failures to successfully preserve digital records, followed by the General Counsel, Head of Records Management, CIO, and Board of Directors.

Mike Quinn, CEO of Preservica, said: “Dropping the ball on governing and preserving long-term digital information not only creates multiple sources of legal, security, and compliance risks, but it also starves the organisation of the information raw materials it needs to understand what happened, so it can intelligently predict what will happen. As analysis tools and techniques continue to radically improve our ability to harness our digital information, this failure will only grow as a threat to competitiveness and innovation.”

Barclay T. Blair, Executive Director and Founder at IGI, commented: “This report underlines how long-term digital information is not only proliferating across the enterprise, but the consequences of failing to properly govern and manage it only grow graver, with the impact felt all the way up to the CEO and Board of Directors.

“While legal and regulatory requirements have always driven preservation and governance of long-term digital information, the quest for business value is rising as a major driver too; yet the implementation of technology needed to protect and ensure long-term access to digital information still lags,” Blair added.

Last year, the IGI 2016 Benchmark Report on The Governance of Long-Term Digital Information exposed the troubling dynamic that while virtually every organisation (98%) needed to keep digital information for longer than ten years, few (16%) had a viable approach for proper governance and preservation. Since then, some organisations have taken steps to integrate proper systems into the lifecycle of governing their digital information. However, many continue to lag behind - putting their long-term information, business performance and C-Suite at risk.

Other statistics to emerge from the annual survey included 90% of respondents believing that “ensuring readability and usability of information” was a key requirement for governing and preserving long-term digital information. Meanwhile 79% of respondents said that “proving authenticity and trustworthiness” was also important.

The survey was conducted among information governance practitioners from the US and UK across multiple sectors. The IGI 2017 Benchmark Highlights can be downloaded here: