Consider the average-knowledge worker at a midsize company. When he is hired, he gets a computer with a set of applications and a big, empty hard drive. Then he starts creating data, exchanging data, downloading data and transferring data. Maybe he works on a project and completes it, but the data from that project stays on the computer. Or, maybe he transfers departments and takes his computer with him. He also will probably use DVDs, thumb drives, cloud services and social media websites to store information.
Now multiply this example by the thousands of people working in that organization and you can get a sense of just how hard it is to find all of the responsive data you need to respond to a lawsuit. The explosion in electronically stored information (ESI) has introduced exponential risk around the security of data, an organization’s ability to protect and produce that data, and that organization’s ability to prepare in advance of litigation to comply with court requirements.
There are several other key benefits to incentivize an organization to create a data map. It can help an organization establish a critical, foundational element in its e-discovery and litigation preparedness. Specifically, it can help an organization:
- Minimize time required to locate relevant ESI when litigation arises
- Gain peace of mind and assist in FRCP Rule 26 (f) preparation in advance of litigation
- Show regulators, adversaries and judges at an early stage that an organization understands where responsive data resides
- Empower lawyers to demonstrate the relative merits of alternative approaches to ESI preservation and production
Creating a data map is no easy task for an IT organization. In fact, mapping your personal data is a breeze compared to mapping data on an enterprise-wide level. For one, a company is likely to have tremendously more storage devices. Not only are there computers, laptops and smartphones to consider, but also there are servers, flash drives, legacy systems, a variety of backup devices and, increasingly, cloud storage services. In addition, a company’s IT infrastructure is often in a state of flux. Users create, delete and move information regularly, while IT personnel may add or alter storage devices.