Why Unstructured Data Management is Critical in the ESG Conversation

Why Unstructured Data Management is Critical in the ESG Conversation

In our data-centric business ecosystems, managing unstructured data is no longer an option for any enterprise. It represents around 90% of all data today and is predicted by IDC to increase in volume threefold by 2025 to a mind boggling total of 144ZB (that’s 144 trillion gigabytes).

Not only is the magnitude of unstructured data overwhelming, but in the face of exponential growth, both on-premises and cloud storage environments are constantly evolving and becoming increasingly more complex. At the same time, unstructured data is becoming mission-critical across a plethora of use cases. As a result, a new paradigm has emerged where data must continually move between systems in order to keep businesses operational.

Spread across multi-vendor and multi-cloud environments, organizations must try to balance continuous data management and mobility against a backdrop of increasing regulation. One way or another, most organizations struggle to address these challenges and fail to hit the ‘Dynamic Unstructured Data Management’ sweet spot: the right data, in the right place, at the right time — all of the time.

Without proper unstructured data management, enterprises typically face a group of critical concerns, including their ability to conform to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) policies.

How Unstructured Data is Connected to ESG

ESG is high on the agenda of almost every major corporation in the world today. From reducing carbon footprint to sourcing responsibly and sustainably, businesses are increasingly judged against their ESG performance and can simply not afford to sit on the sidelines or engage in virtue signaling.

In fact, according to 451 Research, 53% of enterprises currently have a formal ESG program in place or are already planning for one. That represents a major shift in leadership mindset and is increasingly reflected in the technology choices made by corporations around the world.

Infrastructure and unstructured data management are prime examples of how ESG is having an influence on tech strategy. With cloud platform operators routinely publishing statistics around their ecological goals and pursuing ambitious sustainability programs, infrastructure providers are under intense pressure to play a full and active role in saving the planet.

Given cloud has an inherent advantage over on-premises, up to an 80% carbon reduction according to a recent study, it’s not surprising that understanding data and keeping it in the most appropriate place can help companies achieve their ESG objectives. But this does not mean that all data en-mass can just be moved to the cloud to achieve these objectives.

A holistic approach to ESG should bring unstructured data management into the conversation by enabling enterprises to move away from legacy models where data is stored in a digital ‘landfill’. In these environments, data simply takes up space, money, and precious resources but gives very little in return. Finding anything specific in a landfill is time consuming and hazardous, and that analogy remains true in relation to enterprise data.

Instead, organizations should be able to monitor their key ESG indicators and take action to achieve their targets by moving data to cloud and less polluting storage, deleting redundant, obsolete, or trivial (ROT) data and by enabling consolidation, reuse, and earlier shutdown of hardware. By doing so, they can target a win-win of an effective and empowering approach to unstructured data that also delivers on ESG objectives.