This blog post is a joint submission with BakerHostetler’s Discovery Advocate blog.

Information is the lifeblood of businesses today. As the volume of data continues to grow exponentially, intelligent governance of information is essential for enterprises to survive and thrive. Data security concerns, privacy, compliance requirements and the costs of ediscovery all militate toward implementation of policies and procedures to effectively and efficiently manage information. In addition, the ability to utilize analytics and mine valuable information from large data sets has transformed data into an essential business intelligence resource. Amazon, for example, is well known for its success in using its own data to target advertising to customers based on their past purchases and purchases of similar customers, and to improve customer service operations.

But what is Information Governance? Information Governance establishes a consistent and logical framework for employees to handle data. It should create a high-level policy focused on enterprise-wide strategic and business goals. The process of developing an Information Governance policy should include all relevant stakeholders and take into account the enterprise’s organization and culture, legal/regulatory concerns, business operations, and technology. The policy must address the enterprise’s particular data challenges, such as retention of personal health information or managing streaming data from social media.

While recognizing the inherent value in some of the information being created and collected, an Information Governance policy must recognize that most data likely has no business value. Development and implementation of a solid defensible deletion plan therefore is a crucial component of Information Governance. Keeping everything simply doesn’t make sense, but deletion must be guided by legal considerations, such as the effect of legal holds, regulatory and compliance requirements and business concerns. In light of these high-stake considerations, the cost of keeping too or deleting too much information cannot be ignored.

The Information Governance policy also must address how retained information is managed. Redundancies should be eliminated as much as possible, and classification and organizational systems should be devised so that information can be easily and quickly retrieved.

It is essential for modern enterprises to get their data house in order to reduce costs and liabilities while also exploiting the benefits information now offers. Implementation of a solid Information Governance plan should be a high priority for all enterprises looking to thrive and succeed in today’s big data environment.