The Remnants of the Pandemic and Great Resignation Point to Information Gaps

By Nick Inglis

As we enter our third calendar year of the COVID-19 pandemic, professionals must reflect on the information implications of the last two years to continue to meet the ongoing challenges of their jobs that have arisen from this time.

The great resignation & the ownership dilemma

One of the most considerable challenges from the pandemic has to do with the increasing pace of job changes dubbed “the Great Resignation.” As individuals leave roles more frequently, the companies and law firms they are departing have struggled to keep their information under control – furthering the challenge of determining who “owns” information that departed employees have left behind.

In areas that have seen significant M&A activity through the pandemic, the issues are multiplied by the convergence of information systems.

Now, with massive pools of potentially unorganized files, collaboration applications, and chats, the important digitally intermingled with the trivial, how do you get to the other side? If this was a challenge to keep on top of before the pandemic, it has likely become unmanageable today. These types of scenarios call for ROT reduction projects.

ROT, a shorthand term for “redundant, outdated, or trivial,” is the unnecessary information that your organization or firm is holding onto unnecessarily. In this case, it would be your departed employees’ temporary files, working documents, convenience copies, and well, junk.

ROT reduction projects have existed for decades now, but you can perform one with ease today by leveraging AI capabilities, such as Live EDA, to weed out that trivial information left in a former employee’s files that’s also mixed with other business information. It used to require a lot of human capital to execute a ROT reduction project – today, AI makes it a relative breeze with IPRO.

Why would you care about the ROT of your “Great Resignated” employees?

Many organizations, I know, have just deleted all their departing employee’s information. That may be acceptable in your discipline, but understand that out with the ROT goes the potentially valuable information as well. I can’t think of many companies where this is an acceptable practice, and indeed, never a law firm.

Other organizations take all their departing employee’s information and dump it into divisional repositories or some other way of keeping all those resignators’ files indefinitely. All this unnecessary information is likely just slowing down your data crawls, adding to your storage costs, and maintaining a lot of ROT – with little value-added. Think, yes, we have kept all this information, but how will we utilize it? Does it genuinely have value enough to retain?

There are risks and costs associated with these two, not atypical (yet still unacceptable) approaches. For most companies, firms, municipalities, organizations, those risks and costs are too high (or certainly should be assessed much higher than they are currently).

For most, we must take a third path–consistent cleanliness.

Consistent cleanliness

Allow me an analogy. We all used to vacuum regularly in our homes – individually, we would spend our time on the project “vacuuming.” Today, vacuuming robots can do that for us automatically. You see, we’ve replaced a regular project with automation.

Likewise, we’ve likely had information cleanup projects in our organizations – the occasional opportunities to clean during a migration or an outright project intended to tidy our information. Today, you have the power of the IPRO tools, leveraging AI and Machine Learning at your disposal (pun intended).

Start with your ROT project and then take the rules/settings you just established for the project… and automate them. Further, we have time-tested models for PII (personally identifiable information), PHI (personal healthcare information), and PCI (personal credit information) to get yourself running with automation quickly.

The information planners and plotters win

We can solve these issues we’re seeing exacerbated during the Great Resignation as a one-off challenge, no doubt. I, however, think they’re a warning to organizations – that further reflection is required. If this staffing change increase is taxing your organization’s information capabilities – your organizational information capabilities need your attention.

If you can’t readily and efficiently respond to various information scenarios, you’re deficient. I ask you to run through this list and think about your capabilities. Most companies today have the capabilities to do any of the following as an instant project in response to an issue:

  • Legal hold
  • Legal hold notification
  • ROT cleanup
  • Deduplication
  • Repository compliance with PII, PHI, & PCI policies
  • Migration and cleanup
  • Ownership assignment of orphaned information
  • Retention policy compliance audits

Likewise, the modern information-informed organization also has some automation tools at its disposal:

  • Sensitive information scanning (PCI, PHI, PII)
  • Quarantine
  • Report generation (sizing, growth/reduction, ROT %, etc.)
  • Information movement monitoring

Having a toolset to enable Information Governance allows for a modern organization to meet its needs across:

  • full projects
  • the application of automation
  • on-the-fly response (everything from post-security incident investigation through executive decision-making)

The people who had Information Governance already in place were most prepared for the pandemic and resulting Great Resignation and were the ones who had the tools to perform these most common types of activities. The organizations that had this kind of toolset before have done a better job handling the on-the-fly challenges that these global events bring. I’m looking forward to seeing research reports that further confirm this finding, like the eDiscovery Today Report that IPRO sponsored.

Helping to enable Information Governance in organizations is something that IPRO relishes as we want to assist you bridge the information gaps in your organization that the pandemic may have so successfully laid bare.