Too much information? Data deletion as a viable data management strategy

Data management experts usually focus on the best practices to expand data architectures. But with rapidly growing variety and volume of datastreams, businesses encounter complexities when it comes to managing important business data. As a result, it might be time for enterprises to do less. In fact, enterprise information management stems from the idea that less is sometimes more. There comes a time when vendor relationships and software solutions drain resources unreasonably. Unfortunately, by that time most business stakeholders are stuck in a never-ending cycle of product updates and upgrades. What started as a means to adopt solutions for better handling of larger data volumes now becomes a waste of resources that could have been put to better use. But a simple solution is present right under their noses: data deletion.

Why data deletion works

data deletion
Flickr / Matt McGee

Working with data? Learn when and where to use the “delete” button to make your life easier. It is true that this has several inherent risks, and it is better when executive-level staff carries out the task.

But the truth is, something this simple can be a total game-changer for the enterprise. The subject of data deletion requires adequate care and expertise but is a key aspect of forward-thinking data management strategy.

Data deletion brings the process of actual data analytics to the forefront. And as long as collecting data remains the lifeblood of modern digital businesses, the method will yield decent results. In the current scenario where organizations are hesitant to dispose of even the smallest amount of data, deletion might be necessary. Alongside, companies need to ignore data that does not fit the mold.

Methodical progression

Now, data deletion might make sense and appear perfectly logical on paper; it is actually harder to implement than it seems. To get this right, enterprises should first set up a repeatable procedure, and then perform a thorough data mapping audit of the enterprise. Once you establish an efficient, streamlined legal hold policy, it is time to pull the trigger and delete documents in accordance with the business’ deletion strategy.

The deletion of data is not under any legal hold. Eliminate any piece of information that does not solve any business or statutory purpose. Defensibly deleting data is not subject to fear of sanctions.

Components of a good data deletion strategy

Your deletion strategy should be part of company’s overall information governance policy. It should complement and reinforce the unique business approach followed by the organization. However, remember that one size does not necessarily fit this department. Ideally, the process needs to be an ongoing and comprehensive assessment — one that is effectively tailor-made for your business.

Enabling leaner data-centered operations

The deletion strategy will directly affect the willingness of your enterprise to take risks, litigation expenses, and operational costs. If you hold onto unnecessary and valueless data, you’ll have to take the effort to restore that data and search for it without reason later.

A suitable deletion strategy helps remove the operational cost of maintaining and supporting unnecessary data storage. Plus, a deletion strategy helps control the cost of eDiscovery by narrowing the amount of data targeted for collection.

Take it phase-wise

The trick is to start small. First, develop a proper understanding of what data your enterprise has and where storage happens. This will help develop the overall policy and define what constitutes a suitable deletion strategy.

Speak to company employees and develop an idea about how best to tackle deletion and information governance. Always stay abreast of the latest developments within the organization, and consider leveraging analytics and technology to identify data that can be purged to limit liability.

Set the deletion path

data deletion

Make use of content auditing and web analytics to find pages that require deletion. For example, it is a good idea to eliminate pages with duplicate content, low traffic, or bad quality scores.

Set proper notifications within the content processes to inform the content owners when some content requires removal. Either automate notifications in the CMS or make it manual, according to a content review or audit cycle.

It is probably a stellar idea to set guidelines for archiving various content types. Set the timeframe as per the industry, organization, and regulatory requirements. Maintain a content maintenance checklist to implement deleting and archiving rules within the organization.

Ensure your content inventories and audits are planned at regular intervals so they can identify out-of-date content, especially content that requires replacement. Processes and guidelines must address broken links that occur due to deleted or archived content.

Impact of GDPR

data deletion
Flickr / Descrier

With GDPR now a reality, enterprises must decide on a course of action for backups. According to policy regulations, proactive deletion is possible only through an understanding of data and security. Know what data you have and where you have it. If you do not know where it is, you cannot protect it.

But deletion is a thorny issue for many companies. GDPR enables EU individuals to erase their personal data upon request. This is a cause for concern for companies that keep uneditable backups.

The good news is some data must be erased if necessary, like the data gathered from social media accounts. And in the case of GDPR, this must be performed without any delay. For backups, however, some companies wait until the data “ages out” of this backup retention period. In such cases, a tight deletion strategy is helpful and helps minimize the chances of misuse or loss of data.


Data deletion is an IT issue for many businesses. When IT tells the company that it wishes to delete data, pushback occurs. After all, the information might be valuable.

Even if the company figures out its data retention issues, business-level views might not always fall on the same page. This occurs due to each function treating data differently. Thus, in the long run, data deletion efforts must come from the top.

Too much information

With the increased use and adoption of smartphones, the digital universe will grow unabated. The volume of digital information boggles the mind.

By deleting data, businesses will not jeopardize the financial, technological, and operational resources available for processing, collecting, and analyzing large amounts of incoming data. In fact, they will save money and boost their security, giving the business a competitive edge.

And that is always something to smile about!

Featured image: Shutterstock

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