Vendors selling into the information governance market might be forgiven for thinking that most organizations have simply pushed file share clean up to one side as they pursue other priorities. However, after a week spent with the MER Conference and CIGO Summit events, it’s clear that the story is in resurgence. The reasons are manifold but the most common are that it provides a most logical place to start any information governance undertaking, that valuable information must be better organized as part of a migration or that risks of sensitive data exposure in the event of a breach simply too high.

Evidence? Starting with the Information Governance Initiatives annual survey we can see that file share clean up and remediation projects are on the rise. The surge in corporate use of capabilities such as Dropbox, Onedrive and Google Drive is showing that users are voting with their feet (and being supported by their CIOs) and at the MER Conference, the session titled ‘Death to the S Drive’ was standing room only.

With our customers reporting real success in ROT clean up, WE GET IT. What is interesting is that I can see organizations making a similar mistake to the one we saw perhaps 10 years ago when many adopted a ‘throw everything over there’ approach with archive solutions. Back then, the lure of not having to make a disposal decision was almost overwhelming and, as a result, we are now getting more enquiries about how to dispose of that archive mountain. The problem being that disposal obligations for information do not simply ‘go away’ and that archives really are significantly harder and more costly to discover and dispose of than the original file share.

Looking ahead now, it seems that the new file shares are Dropbox, Onedrive, Google Drive and maybe whatever Amazon chooses to bring to the party. Driven by viral user adoption, these environments already exhibit file share-like characteristics from an information perspective (personal stashes, runaway growth and lack of oversight, inadequate policy support) and disperse the problems across a range of different web platforms. So, file shares are, in this new guise, are here to stay and the question is ‘how are we going to learn from past mistakes?’

Just like the old S Drive, these new file shares – the places where users and teams grow and collaborate on information – need consistent oversight for compliance, disposition and to drive information value. Our products are, of course, part of the solution but I really hope that information leaders don’t make the same mistake again and this time, put in place the right oversight from the beginning so that the disposal problem is just ‘kicked down the road’.