Access and Feeds

Content Sprawl: Unchecked Data Growth Leads to Security and Productivity Issues

By Dick Weisinger

Content sprawl is the rapid growth of electronic files and data that aren’t centrally managed and spread across various applications, devices, and cloud services. Often there are multiple copies and versions of the same information.

Many applications and systems software auto-generate content, like log files and reports.

Additionally, collaboration tools are making it easier for workers to interact quickly, but there are typically multiple channels and tools, and the result is that records of conversations and exchanged data and files are sometimes lost or hard to find. Local device storage, email, collaboration portals and other informal repositories are often difficult to secure. While there are benefits to easier collaboration, content sprawl is an undesirable side effect.

Content sprawl can make locating information quickly challenging and determining which data or document is the most-up-to date confusing. A report by McKinsey estimated that employees spend 1.5 hours every day searching for content.

Challenges and problems related to trying to secure rapidly growing data volumes make organizations more susceptible to breaches, ransomware, and compliance violations.

Solutions to content sprawl include consolidation with discipline: the elimination of unneeded or infrequently used systems while prioritizing the use of a core set of channels, applications, and services that are intended for creating and sharing content.

Content audits can also can help identify content that is out of date or no longer needed. Removing or archiving this content on a consistent and regular schedule can help reduce sprawl.

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