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Global CIO: Your Data Is Like Week-Old Flounder

Our intrepid leader, Stu Laura, takes on those who would preserve every last shred of company information
I deftly sidestepped remarking on Laura's keenly developed sense of cynicism and asked how his Grand Plan is going to go over on Mahogany Row.

"They'll hate it. They will shoot the messenger. The financial types will puke all over themselves... And then they will very grudgingly say it is the only logical answer. Look, data is like bodies in a cemetery. Sure, we should honor Uncle Sidney, recently departed, but Uncle Sidney's great great grandfather? That sucker is costing us money, and no one alive even knows who he was. We need that space!"

OK, so marketing sometimes gets a little carried away, but certainly not finance, certainly not HR, certainly not manufacturing, certainly not engineering.

"They are even worse! They keep telling me the Three Great Lies: We need it. We can't throw it away. It's valuable. Think about when you move into a new house. You pack everything into your attic, and after you lug all that crap from the truck to the attic, you realize you don't need it/want it anyway.

"Think about what we had to do with employees who wanted to keep unlimited amounts of data forever. We bought them thumb drives and told them that was their 'storage,' and we drove them from the Temple. This is just the big brother of that same problem. No one is going to go into files, document by document, to see what they really need. They're just going to tell me that 'help is on the way,' that I should move aggressively into virtualization, that the 'cloud' is going to solve all my problems, that I need more vision.

What they're really saying is, 'Sure, go bang hard on the OTHER departments, make them clean their files, delete the flotsam in their databases, but keep the hell away from mine!'"

So there you have it. Laura has allowed his rampant skepticism about the "value of information" to slip into runaway cynicism, but he seems to have a good point. He has a sign over his desk, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without," and he says that this sign is valuable corporate data and there is no way he is going to dispose of it.