• United States

Would you pay $1 million for an archiving system?

Nov 13, 20082 mins
Data CenterEmail ClientsEnterprise Applications

* Decision-makers that feel they don't need to archive content are wrong

The mayor of Detroit resigned his position in September, his chief of staff resigned in January and the mayor will be spending four months in jail. Part of what precipitated these events was a wrongful termination lawsuit brought by three police officers against the city. Although the chief of staff claimed that one of the officers was not fired by the city, the officers were able to prove, through archives of text messages, that at least one of them had been fired. Collectively, the officers won $8 million.

One of the arguments against archiving goes something like this: a) archives will contain smoking guns; b) they could come back to bite us; c) we can intentionally purge data stores of them; and d) we’re not liable if we can’t produce them. Three-quarters of that argument work quite well – except, of course, for Point D. In the case cited above, the city’s provider of pagers kept these records and offered them as evidence when they were subpoenaed.

Now, imagine that the city had kept its own archives of text messages and had reviewed the archive in a pre-litigation review to see if the officers’ allegations were valid. Upon finding that the officers had a case, the city might have settled for $2 million per officer – and saved the taxpayers $2 million.

What this means, assuming my conjecture is valid, is that the city could have spent $1 million on a message archiving system – more than they would have needed to pay – and still saved a million dollars in the process. Plus, the archiving system might have been able to avert similarly large judgments in the future, providing further payback.

The bottom line is this: Decision-makers that feel they don’t need to archive content are wrong. As unified communication systems become more commonplace, allowing users to generate and store even more diverse content types, a decision not to deploy archiving will be even more wrong.