Digital Transformation? How about Information Transformation

By Sean Burgess, EncompaaS

Digital transformation is still one of the buzz phrases of the IT industry. An umbrella term with so many nuances that it makes it difficult to start a constructive conversation, particularly when it comes to information governance and data protection. Where do you start?

Having been part of the content services, information management and governance community for over 10 years now, I come across many organisations who are experiencing the challenge of balancing old with new, decommissioning the old, or giving the old a makeover. Essentially, they’re trying to transform…digitally.

In fact, keeping the legacy around for a while might be a good thing. In 2022, vinyl records outsold CDs for the first time in decades, showing that sometimes the old can be cool and useful. Music, clothing, films, content repositories… It’s a big decision to turn your back on a parka coat when you might need it at some point in the future when you see Liam Gallagher in concert. You have to be sure that when you replace it, you’ve got something ready to transition over to that suits your needs.

The challenge that many of my clients face is the ever-accelerating growth of a demanding customer base and the requirements to change to align with that demand. Partner this with a plethora of legacy platforms, full of information (often critical and personal) that already have complex integrations that now need to communicate with newer age technologies that need access to that key information. Organisations are now juggling M365 alongside the non-M365, with content spread across many silos. Spinning those plates when it comes to information management becomes very difficult.

With an estimate that 80% of information is unstructured and that volume continues to grow, as managers of information it comes with a requirement to go on a journey of information transformation. The growing digital heap brings both challenges and opportunity, as there are great insights locked within documents that can bring value to your organisation if you have your information visible and under control.

Take Microsoft Teams as an example, with 270 million daily active users of Teams in 2022 and a huge number of documents being shared across the platform, it creates a necessity to manage and govern the information that’s being shared. Multiply that across your information architecture and it creates a productivity, cost, and risk headache. It’s already difficult enough to manage and govern the information that you do know…but what about the unknown?

Before embarking upon information transformation, you first need to understand what you have and where it is – only then can you really know what can go in the rubbish bin (securely), what you can apply retention to and what strategic decisions can be made around your information.

When a lot of data is unknown, there may be critical documents or data that are tucked away in the wild that make achieving these impossible. With knowledge being key, having a holistic visualisation of all your information sources before making important, strategic decisions is paramount; and by having all this intel in the same place, you no longer have to be afraid of the dark…data.

I refer to this as “the blueprint” – know what is stored and understand your information value and risk together, showing your SharePoint Online footprint and Teams information alongside your legacy content and network drives.

Doing this in an automated way, without user input, takes away a lot of discovery and operational costs. By having content policies and classification in place centrally, you are then able to report back within your organisation findings and strategy to help with compliance and governance, whether it be regulatory or internally driven. Not to mention peace of mind in knowing that you can centralise policy management from one screen, whilst keeping the content in place, taking away change management from end users and increasing productivity.

Creating that blueprint presents endless possibilities – a rich, visible landscape that enables you to derive value from your information, whether that be looking at things from a governance angle (retention, defensible disposal or relocation) through to beginning to actually use the value within your documents to drive processes (faster data access for SARs, FOIs, eDiscovery).

Now, is this information transformation I speak of an easy task? Absolutely not, however the great part of it is that it has a clear, structured approach that enables you to bite off one piece at a time when negotiating the challenging roads that will appear. However, the long-term benefits in productivity, cost, and risk that this transformation can bring are significant.

At a high level, I see four key pillars to achieve this:

Discovery: Having visibility of your information across all sources, in real time.

Understanding: Identifying and classifying at-risk personal data.

Governance: Automating retention, disposition, and relocation.

Utilisation: Empowering end users with the right information at the right time.

Elements 1 and 2 are the most important, as well as the blueprint that I mentioned, to achieving a strong foundation to progress with. From there, the fun begins!

Sean Burgess is Sales Lead at EncompaaS. Send an email to for more information.