Watch your step: the digital footprints that can walk your business into trouble
“One school of thought is that nothing beats a manual view of documents. I would be of the school of thought where that’s probably true in an ideal world, but in the real world, where the cost for a client is so immense, we need to use technology better.”
For your information ‘It isn’t just about saving time and money’
Managing information better isn’t just about saving time and money in litigation; experts say it has business benefits in areas such as regulatory compliance or resolving internal HR matters.
“Having masses of information to search through is where your costs come in. By having a defensible retention schedule, you at least are managing the volume of information that you have to deal with as an organisation,” says Dermot Moore, an information governance specialist who has worked with many blue-chip firms.
“The other added advantage of that is, it’s better business. Information drives your organisation and it has a value in itself . . . You’re gaining knowledge about your business. Understanding the information you have and the context of it, and being able to articulate that to others, is the key to e-discovery,” says Moore.
Businesses of all sizes can address the issue through a mix of policies, procedures, employee awareness and technology, advises Colm Murphy, technical director with Espion, one of the largest e-discovery specialists in Ireland.
Deduplication technology – which deletes duplicates of the same item – avoids having to store multiple copies of the same information, and messages on smartphones should also be replicated in a central storage system, says Murphy. “You don’t want to pay a lawyer to read the same email over and over, nor does the lawyer want to.”
Businesses can use IT upgrades as an opportunity to start managing their information better. The controls should be appropriate to the data being stored, and firms need to inform their employees that this is happening, Murphy says.
“Think of it as a simple filing cabinet. If you just throw everything in there, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. If you have an organised filing system, it has some logic to it. The better prepared you are, the less it will all cost.” GORDON SMITH