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What’s Your Data Worth? Only Time Will Tell

by on June 1, 2011

Have you ever thought about what exactly your data is worth? Without a doubt, data is one of an enterprise’s most valuable assets. But, at the same time, specific data sets are not an asset that tends to hold its value over time.

Data tends to be most valuable when it’s fresh—that is, when it’s newly created or acquired. One of the reasons this “fresh” data is considered valuable is because it is usually used for restores in case of disaster. However, over time, the value of data typically depreciates and the less it needs to be accessed. In fact, an estimated 80 percent of files are never accessed again once created. And this inactive data consumes on average 60-90% of production catalogs.

Average production catalog allocation

The exception to this rule, of course, is data that the organization has a legal or compliance reason to keep. The value of data that the organization needs for SOX compliance or to defend itself in a lawsuit, for example, does depreciate initially but then stays somewhat steady over its required retention timeframe—and can even increase, such as when the organization is called upon to supply this data.

Clearly, understanding how this concept of the time value of data—both the rule and its very important exception—applies to your data universe is critical. Only by proactively and clearly segmenting data sets with a high time value from those that have low to no value can you effectively retain and locate the data you need while expending minimal energy and budget storing and managing the volumes of data you don’t need.

Does your business have a good handle on the time value of its data? And what are the implications for archival and retention practices?  If this is an issue you haven’t reviewed in a while—or one where business and IT department have yet to see eye to eye—the data explosion underway makes now the opportune time to address it.

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