A coffee purveyor from Seattle with great coffee and cool employees, (not to mention any names) gets involved in a business dispute with another company who fails to produce email, among other things. In the discovery process the company argues that the email should not have to be produced because it was not “reasonably accessible because of undue burden or cost.” In a world where we use so many great business productivity tools every day, by now all companies should expect to be required to manage the contents and make it available when needed for audits, litigation or investigation. It is too late in the process to be arguing expense and inconvenience when we use the tools everyday to be a more efficient business. Are you kidding me. Of course the court sanctioned the whiners.
A hypothetical to ponder: A foreign car manufacturer who creates products that are loved the world over, uncovers that one of its vehicles may have a defect that causes a braking fault. That hypothetical company does not go public with the defect issue as it will cost great money to fix, saying nothing of the bad PR to the otherwise revered company. Sometime later after receiving many complaints and experiencing several disastrous accidents that may be been caused by the alleged defect, the United Stated government commences an investigation. When that investigation happens do you think it will rely on people telling the whole story or records to really piece together what happened and when. Employees get fired, forget, selectively forget, lie, retire, move on and get new jobs. At the center of the alleged problem will be records that will either protect the company or demonstrate there was a problem. So why exactly do we need records anyway? Remember you can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Are You Kidding me.
What is in a statistics? Let me admit that Kahn Consulting has done many surveys over the years and I have analyzed data provided by many companies responding to survey questions. We labored over how to write them to get “useful” feedback. Yet, “at the end of the day”, “in the final analysis”, “after thinking outside the box”, I was left wondering about the veracity of the input—was the respondent “in the know” and did we get “the straight dope”. Loath to be trite, I wonder about stats all the time. For example, according to an Economist Intelligence Unit Report on Information Governance, “…nearly 73% of respondents report that their company’s overall ability to provide access to critical business information when needed is good or very good”. HOGWASH!!!!—I think? I have no way to verify the report or determine independently whether or not the feedback was indeed accurate. I am not being critical of the report, but rather questioning the feedback. Is it true or not? But in the my heart of hearts, it doesn’t feel right. News reports about business failure after business failure remind me daily that managing information is not nearly as good as it should be. Take the Christmas day terrorist bomber for example. Information about the terrorist existed, in various data bases, from various intelligence agencies and units, in various forms, but the dots were not able to be connected. So is it failure or success even if each of the databases “owners” would say that their “overall ability to provide access to critical business information when needed is good or very good”. I am not convinced we are doing very well at governing or managing information. How many exposures of personal identifiable information (PII) do we need to experience before we conclude something is broken. When my gut says something smells fishy I tend to listen. Are You Kidding Me?