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Looking to include unstructured data in ILM practices?

icon_ILMUnstructured data, as one of many information repositories within the organization, is traditionally the most difficult to incorporate into ILM strategies.

The principles of ILM call for information to be prioritized based on its value, for important information to be carefully preserved, and for information to be discarded when it is no longer relevant – with compulsory deletion now a legal requirement. The difficulty in applying these principles to unstructured data lies in the granularity of the decisions that need to be made, often requiring each file to be considered individually.

Organizations are looking to ILM as a unified approach to critical data management needs, most prominently data governance, data compliance and data protection. By managing unstructured data through its life-cycle the organization is able to improve data value realization, achieve regulatory compliance, and close data loss vulnerabilities.

Northern’s Solution

Using a combination of programmatic and owner-driven data management, organizations are now able to map their ILM practices into their unstructured data footprints.

Northern’s Data Stewardship Tracking solution area enables the establishment of a system of data responsibility; designating relevant individuals within the organization as Data Stewards. These Data Stewards are given responsibility for the files created within their team, department or project. Through the Self-Service Data Management solution area, these individuals are then provided with access to a self-service portal that offers dashboards designed to allow them to fulfill specific ILM tasks.


For every organization, unstructured data represents both a source of value and significant risk. By incorporating unstructured data into ILM practices organizations are able to better realize latent value and mitigate hidden compliance or data loss vulnerabilities.

Compulsory deletion of data after retention periods have expired is a legal obligation. Incorporating unstructured data into existing ILM practices is a sound approach to ensuring legally compliant data retention practices.
By involving users close to the data, those who have the best knowledge of the information type and value, organizations are able to resolve the challenges of needing to make granular decisions when mapping ILM strategies to unstructured data.
Unstructured data can be extremely transient with files quickly created, used and then forgotten. File importance can also be extremely long-lasting, as in the case of engineering drawings, contracts or medical records. Proactive management of this data throughout its lifecycle is critical if data footprints are not to become unusable and if legal non-compliance is to be avoided.
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