Finding the ROI in data cleanup

4 Ways to Determine ROI around Data Cleanup

The amount of information your company is creating and collecting is growing larger every year and you know it’s not all useful. You know it’s time to clean house. But your management team doesn’t see the point. They think storage is cheap and it’s better to have too much information than not enough.

You need to show them not only why you need to perform a data cleanup, but prove the ROI behind it. To help you out, here are four ways you can pull together the numbers to determine the ROI from cleaning out redundant, duplicate and trivial information (ROT).

Storage Savings

All storage has a cost, whether it’s storage in your business applications or archival storage onsite or offsite. Storage costs are different depending on the application, whether it’s a cloud-based application and the level of storage you use for archiving.

Your archiving solution should provide tiered storage. For information you use regularly, you will want it available on higher storage tiers (Tier 1 storage) for frequent and fast access. For older information you don’t use often but need to keep, lower tiered storage is a more cost-effective option.

How do you determine which storage tiers you need, and how much you need of each if you aren’t regularly evaluating and cleaning up your data? And what about the information that is ROT (redundant, obsolete and trivial)? In the AIIM report on information governance, it was found that 40% of organizations manage between 40-76% content that is ROT. You can save a lot of money on storage by getting rid of that information permanently.

If lower storage tiers cost less, wouldn’t you want to move as much data there as possible? If it’s ROT, wouldn’t it make more sense to get rid of it completely?

To determine ROI on storage savings, look at what you pay now for storage costs – within your applications and archiving system and estimate how those costs will increase with the increase in information stored over the next couple of year. Next look at how much you can reduce those costs if you deleted ROT and moved less accessed information to lower storage tiers.

Time Saving/Efficiency Improvements

There’s ROI around efficiency improvements that come from cleaning and organizing data, especially related to knowledge management. Think about all the information your employees work with every day. An employee that has been with a company for over 25 years has likely amassed a wealth of information on their shared drive. How does that information get into the hands of other employees who need it to do their jobs?

Consider the scenario where customer calls in with an issue. She’s called several times in the past six months but spoke with different people each time. One of the people that helped her recently left the company and all his information on the customer is located in his Google Drive amid hundreds of other customers’ data. How long does it take the current support agent to resolve her issue? He wants to understand what has happened in the past and how things were resolved, but he can’t find all the information. He spends hours searching for that information before finding only a portion that can help him.

When information is sprawled across content repositories, and there is no connection between the repositories or the information they contain, knowledge workers spend more time searching for information than they do resolving problems or making decisions. Worse yet, they often miss key information that could point to a better decision.

To determine ROI here, you can look at how long it takes an employee to resolve customer issues and how much of that time was spent looking for information across repositories. You should also be able to estimate how often an improper decision was made because key information was missed.

Risk Avoidance

Data breaches have become a regular occurrence, and the thinking is that you should prepare for the worst. It’s not a matter of if a breach will happen, but when. With information spread across repositories, much of which you don’t need to have any more, your company is at risk of exposing information that to hackers. But it’s not just external threats you have to worry about; it’s also theft from internal parties and accidental leaking of information.

Knowing what information you have and where, and then cleaning the data can mitigate the risk of exposure. Disposing of unneeded information and organizing and moving data to secure locations can help reduce the amount of information taken in a breach.

For your ROI calculation, you can look at fines you would get if a breach happened, customers lost, as well as the impact on your brand and the decrease in stock value (market cap and valuation). Weigh those costs against the cost of a data cleanup tool and the work required to implement and manage it.

Compliance with Privacy Regulations like GDPR

Every organization deals with privacy regulations. If your company is global, it’s GDPR. If your business is in California, it’s CCPA; in New York, it’s NYDFS. These regulations define specific rules for what information you are allowed to collect, how you manage it, and how you use it.

In several cases, there are also rules for how long you can take to respond to a customer’s request for their information. If that information is spread across the company with no way to find it all easily, you could be looking at extended delays that will result in fines.

The cost of non-compliance is high. Fines run in the thousands to millions. It shouldn’t be difficult to show ROI for data cleanup compared to the potential costs of fines.

Are You Ready to Clean Up Your Data?

We’ve outlined four ways you can prove to management that data cleanup is not just essential, but an effective way to save money and avoid costs. Implementing the right technology and putting a regular process in place to manage your information regularly can help you save on storage costs, improve knowledge worker efficiency, reduce risk and improve compliance.

Keep in mind that data cleanup isn’t a one-time effort. It’s an ongoing process you put in place to ensure your information is always organized, easily findable and stored appropriately.