90% of data that existed in 2013 had been created merely within the previous two year period (ScienceDaily). While sources such as 24-hour news channels and social media contribute much to the global data pool, individual organisations too are bursting out of their data storage seams. In a 2014 AIIM Market Intelligence report on automation of Information Governance, 68% of the 531 organisations surveyed revealed a rapid growth of electronic records within their organisations. While 32% of correspondents were confident that they were minimising their paper trail, not one respondent reported a decrease in electronic records.
Statistics such as these paint an overwhelming picture of the exponentially proliferating nature of data, which necessitates financial organisations to ask themselves: has the time come to trim down our historical data records?
The Challenge of Trimming Financial Data
From a budgetary perspective, the ROI on implementing stringent information governance in terms of historical data seems a sad investment - especially when compared with the unlikely odds of a costly lawsuit or data breach. That’s of course unless your organisation is storing Mossack Fonseca/Panama-style documents; in which case you have bigger problems than a large volume of historical data.
Another fear related to embarking on an in-depth InfoGov project is the risk of deleting data that could be required at a later stage. According to AIIM’s report:
"Only 12% of respondents feel confident that they store only what they need to store. 42% are not confident about what is safe to delete."
Teresa Schock, member of CGOC (Compliance, Governance and Oversight Council) and expert on information governance, points out that it is these fears that lead some of the largest of multinationals to implement a retention policy that is simply, “we keep it all”:
"In essence, they keep the junk mail, the piles of newspapers, and data clutter to the point of hindering their ability to manage daily activities. Whether the data announces a past picnic or delineates a business plan does not matter." (source: Cloud Expo Journal)
Schock and other proponents of Information Governance warn against a keep-it-all policy, suggesting that organisations implement selective deletion of both historical and current data. Arguments against keeping all data entail the risk of losing track of the location of mission critical data within the sea of information, the risk of data leaks and growing costs of information storage:
Inability to find documents
AIIM reports that 24% of the respondents in their study have had a compliance issue around litigation and discovery in the previous two years. While businesses may succeed in avoiding penalties for an inability to produce evidence through e-discovery, these services could end up costing millions.
Risk of Data Leaks
Leaked personal details, especially within the financial industry, can cause significant reputational damage even when all transactions exposed are above board. Companies will be required to notify every person and organisation that could be affected.
"The ability to store unlimited files for free sounds like a dream, so it’s not surprising that companies continue to flirt with it. This race to the bottom accelerated with Google’s announcement last week of almost-unlimited photo and video backup via their Photos app (“almost” because they downsize your files unless you pay). While this may continue through this year and beyond, more companies will also begin to realize that cheap and unlimited storage is not a tenable business proposition."
Risks such as these are enough to put fear and trembling into the hearts of every wealth manager. The reality, however, is that both the nature of financial data and provisions made by Microsoft Dynamics NAV software means that organisations can in fact keep all historical data – cost efficiently, securely and well organised.
All data is not equal
The very nature of financial data means that we are dealing with minuscule fact files. In reality, the size of financial data is negligible when compared with the size of photographic and videographic files that fills Cloud storage to overflowing.
Selective data import
Not only are financial data files too small to pose concerns regarding running out of storage space, but software systems hosting financial data is also selective in the data it allows for import. Financial transaction data: yes. Junk mail and picnic announcements: no.
Secure data storage
If there’s one thing that the world learned from the Panama leaks it’s that any data storage system, even those implemented on-premise, is only as secure as its weakest link. The question around Cloud security should perhaps be replaced with the question around the security of a specific data storage center. The reality is that world-class Cloud providers with big budgets, such as Microsoft, are investing extensively in maintaining the highest level of security – which makes the shared data centres of the Cloud-based model a lucrative option for stand-alone organisations.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV is designed to help small-to-medium sized organisations streamline day-to-day operations and get more from their ERP system. With the help of data migration applications and tool support included in the software package, financial and wealth management organisations are able to keep all their data files and ensure easy access to historical data for reporting purposes.
Max has an educational background in Computer Science and Management Information Systems with over 20 years of experience in the software industry including the past 10 years at Elysys. Prior to joining Elysys, Max was MIS Manager at Sonatest PLC, UK where he spent 8 years after starting his career as a software design engineer at BNFL Sellafield.