Five myths about physical data storage that deserve to be busted 

We’ve got a bee in our bonnet at Restore Records Management when it comes to how people talk about physical records management.

Helping businesses optimise their physical records storage to ensure they get the best possible value from the data they store is our passion.

So, when we hear ill-informed opinions about the sector which suggest physical data is an irrelevance and that records management services are living in the past, it gets our back up.

The reality is very different.

Nigel Dews,
Managing Director, Restore Records Management

Digital transformation can deliver fantastic benefits for businesses which have the time and finances to achieve it. Going digital is a credible aim.

But it’s not always as easy as it sounds. And in the real world, digital and physical often live side by side, complementing each other.

In this blog, we want to answer some of the myths around physical data storage and the modern records management industry.

Be prepared to be challenged…

MYTH 1: The physical storage industry is living in the past

As soon as you talk about physical data there will be someone somewhere dismissing it as outdated and living in the past. The dinosaur of data. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Ask yourself, how is data physically stored in the modern world? You’ll find that millions of businesses around the world still store their records on paper and it isn’t going away any time soon.

What many people have missed, is that physical data storage has grown up. Technology has allowed the industry to scan documents on demand, to assign secure destruction dates to data and to tag, index and label every single file so that customers know what they are keeping in every box they store.

It has also allowed physical records to be managed online so they can be accessed 24/7 and provided safety controls to protect documents – from CCTV to humidity controls.

In short, businesses which outsource records storage can become more compliant by understanding what information they are storing. And it’s only once you understand what you have that it’s possible to consider what could or should be digitised. Finally ready to join the road to digital.

Far from being ‘digital deniers’ standing against the tide of technology, records management experts understand the direction of travel – but also understand there are different ways to get there.

MYTH 2: It’s really easy for businesses to go digital

A Deloitte report once revealed that 70% of all digital transformation projects in organisations fail – and there’s a long list of reasons why.

One of the biggest is finance, because it requires a significant budget to achieve –  and many businesses find that scanning every document simply isn’t financially viable.

Other reasons include: 

There’s a lack of digital skills in the business.
They have no strategy around how to do it.
Tech issues derail the project.
They aren’t set up properly to handle the change.
Poor management.
A deep culture of using paper which proves hard to shift.
The board didn’t succeed in getting the buy-in of employees to make the new system work.

MYTH 3: There are no barriers to going fully digital

Not true. There are still laws in some sectors – which require businesses to generate and keep documents on paper. And there are still some significant reasons – cultural, financial and legal – why many businesses have not yet gone digital.

This is why digital and physical records management working side by side can be so effective, and we should acknowledge that for many businesses (perhaps even a majority of them) this is the system best suited to them right now.

MYTH 4: Physical data storage is always second best

Nobody is suggesting that going digital isn’t a good thing. For those who can achieve it, there are some significant benefits from doing so.

But it’s now possible to have many of those same benefits when documents are stored physically.
These documents are still easily accessible, still safe and still secure. But this often gets lost in the narrative that digital is always king.

The debate should be about organisations finding the balance and working out what suits them best – and making sure that the solution meets their requirements. There are ways of optimising inventory with physical records management which are affordable and achievable.

MYTH 5: Physical storage is on its way out very soon

The ‘paperless’ dream has been a long time coming and most industries are nowhere near it.
In the NHS, for instance, we estimate there are still 100 million records stored in physical form in the UK alone.
Of course, all these businesses would benefit from digital transformation but equally, they are limited by legislation and culture.

This is one of the reasons that ‘paperlite’ has emerged as a serious alternative to ‘paperless’.  Organisations have started to talk about progress rather than focusing on being fully digital. And this can often mean keeping paper as part of the mix.

We are seeing examples of this all the time, including in government departments such as the Land Registry. So, it’s time we talked more openly about how to optimise hybrid records management systems and give physical data a voice.

We hope you agree that physical data deserves a bit more respect! Read our latest white paper about why physical data isn’t going away any time soon – and ignoring it is both a risk and a missed opportunity.

To find out more, or discuss your needs, why not get in touch?

Give our specialists a call on 01293780075

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01293 780 075