Questions from the Market – “How can I reduce the cost of data?”

I’m starting an ongoing series that will be based on questions I’ve been asked when speaking at the Big Data and Information Governance forums.  The first question I’ll cover is “How can you control the cost of data growth?”

Is your company an “Information Hoarder”?  If so, answer the five questions below and you’ll be able to reduce the cost of your data.

1 – Do you need the data that you have?

The first step is to determine whether you need all of the data in your production systems.  You might be surprised by the answer.  Often, up to 85% of data in production systems is old and not used.  Information lifecycle management software will manage the lifecycle (i.e., the expiry date) of your information, as well as archive it to lower-cost storage alternatives.  The cost savings is immediate and significant. 

2- Do you know the expiry date for your data?

All data has an expiry date.  Or at least it should.  Most organizations do not determine the expiry date for their data.  The result?  They keep data indefinitely.  There’s a simple rule on the TV show Hoarders – if you haven’t worn an item of clothing in the past year, throw it away.  The same rule applies to data.  If you haven’t accessed it recently, consider deleting or archiving it.

3- What is the cost of managing your data?

Every database has a cost.  Do you know the cost of yours?  There are several published performance benchmarks for relational database software.  The performance of the database is directly correlated to cost.  Migrating to another database may be easier than you think, as some vendors have invested in portability and migration capabilities. 

4- The quality of data carries a cost

The poorer the quality, the higher the cost.  Seems like an obvious relationship, doesn’t it?  But not always.  Cleaning address data will correct  downstream errors, such as return mail costs and postage discount savings.  Aside from the direct cost savings, consider the indirect cost of inefficiency.  How much time do your employees spend investigating and correcting data errors?

5- Unifying fragmented data reduces cost

In the typical organization, many data entities are fragmented across dozens of systems.  Customers, products, locations, suppliers, to name just a few.  The fragmentation drives a cost that is not easy to detect.  It’s the cost of your employees manually searching for data in multiple systems, the cost of duplicating data entry in multiple systems, and the cost of the inevitable errors that result from fragmentation and duplication of effort.  Unifying data into one master data system often has far reaching cost savings implications. 

There are many ways to reduce the cost of your data.  If you are looking for “the low hanging fruit” and a fast ROI, then take a look at the data you have today and determine whether you need all of it.  Likely the answer will be “no”, and information lifecycle management software will help you realize an immediate cost savings.


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About David Corrigan

I’ve spent my entire career helping clients utilize emerging technology to solve their customer data problems. I've always enjoyed solving abstract problems. I've worked with hundreds of companies to utilize new technology, plan and drive to a roadmap, and evangelize and drive momentum for their information projects. During the day, I work on product strategy and marketing for @InfoTrellis, and I'm busy trying to disrupt the customer data and analytics market so that organizations can finally understand every single one of their customers. After hours, I like to take photographs, read, write, practice yoga, or watch soccer - Manchester United and Toronto FC are my teams of choice. Follow me on Twitter @DCorrigan or on LinkedIn at

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