Singapore

Dangers of unnecessary data storage

Millennials are impacting the companies they work for with their tech habits

Everyone generates a digital footprint. But those of baby boomers looks vastly different from that of millennials.

This is due to the differences in how the two groups approach technology, create data and save information.

Over the last seven years, data at a file level, rather than a database level, grew by 39 per cent year-on-year.

A key reason for this is that the average millennial stores almost twice as much data as a baby boomer and about 30 per cent more than the average member of Generation X.

We are part of an increasingly multi-generational workforce made up of baby boomers born from 1946 to the mid-1960s, Generation X born from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s and millennials born from early 1980s to the late 1990s.

Millennials make up the largest proportion of the workforce. By 2020, they would account for over a third (35 per cent) of the global workforce, surpassing the baby boomers, who will experience a decline to just 30 per cent.

As the face of the workforce here is gradually being topped by millennials, the data storage profiles of companies they work for are being impacted too. At 1.2 million people, millennials make up the largest generation (around 22 per cent) of Singapore's workforce.

Growing up a digital native, a millennial's every digital imprint is saved. Plus, the convenience in saving everything digitally adds to the data oversight that results in duplicates in our storage.

In writing this, multiple versions of the article have been created, something that has become the norm when documents are digital rather than physical.

Filing cabinets have been replaced by the cloud, "thank you" letters have been swapped for emojis and photo albums now reside in Instagram for all to see.

Given their digitally powered daily lives, it is no surprise that millennials store more information than others, but the difference is significant when compared to the rest of the workforce.

Plus, 74 per cent of the millennials here admitted to being data hoarders. This is compared to 66 per cent of baby boomers.

As millennials boast a growing presence in the workplace, businesses should prepare themselves for a data deluge and start to anticipate what this might mean for their storage needs and budget.

Veritas' Databerg Report exposed the implications of increasing data growth rates for businesses.

The most important factor to consider would be the operationalised cost of storing the data and the resulting upward trend when data hoarding becomes the norm. Companies need to be aware that storing unnecessary data might pose a security risk as well.

IMPACT

With the large volume of data stored in on-premises servers or the cloud, visibility is reduced, resulting in a drastic impact on reaction time in pinpointing and rectifying loopholes.

Already, 82 per cent of respondents in the Data Hoarders report admitted to storing data that is potentially harmful to their organisations.

The digital storage tendencies of millennials are not isolated to any one country or region.

When asked what they store, millennials were 27 per cent more consistent across nationalities in their answers than Generation X and 59 per cent more consistent than the baby boomers.

It is critical to point out that while their storage habits may seem excessive, millennials generally are not doing anything wrong - at least not intentionally.

Nonetheless, business owners cannot ignore data hoarding if businesses wish to remain secure and efficient, as well as protect their brand and bottom line.

As baby boomers and Generation X are being gradually replaced by millennials, the quantity and variety of data downloaded will increase exponentially.

Data storage costs and risks will accelerate unless action is taken to expose what is being stored, who is accessing it and whether it should be retained at all.

The Databerg Report sent a clear sign that the volume of data is only going to increase, and increase dramatically. It is time for companies to embrace this fact and figure out how to address the issue head-on.

There are data management solutions that can provide a 360-degree visibility and oversight of both casual data storage and formal retention methods such as archiving.

Organisations can utilise them to ensure that policies are in place and that data hygiene is understood and practised. Not only will this be critical in achieving and maintaining regulatory compliance, it will help keep needless data storage (and with it, needless spending) in check.

The sooner businesses realise how to navigate the deluge of data that is coming, the better prepared they can be.

The writer is managing director, 
Asia South region, at Veritas

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