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Data retrieval requests

Measures to protect and manage growing volumes of information have led to a surge in time-consuming data retrieval requests that further burden over-stretched IT. That is according to a new European study by storage and information management company Iron Mountain has suggested.

Iron Mountain conducted interviews with senior IT professionals in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK[i] <#_edn1> . The conversations suggest that IT professionals are experiencing year-on-year increases of up to 60 per cent in requests for data as employees look to make the most of customer insight or access centrally stored data.

Respondents cite the rapid growth in data volume as the top driver of retrieval requests, as information becomes too great to store on individual PCs. The second biggest contributor to rising employee requests for data is the organisation’s need to restrict access in order to bolster data protection and security, with many employees not permitted to keep copies of business critical information. This means that employees need to formally request access to centrally stored information, which is then provided on a limited and read-only basis.

Next on the list is the impact of company growth, resulting in more employees generating information and requiring access. This is followed by the inevitable impact of human error such as accidental deletion, forgetting to save documents, and the loss or theft of personal mobile devices or shared information.

The data retrieval requests were found to be highest in the manufacturing, services and healthcare sectors. A UK legal software firm that employs more than 10,000 people said it receives a non-stop stream of requests for documents to be used for citations and precedents; while a healthcare firm with more than 250 employees says that its commitment to patient confidentiality means that employees are given read-only access to documents and that its ability to view them expires after a pre-determined time limit.

A manufacturing firm in France with just under 500 employees says its vast repository of product, process, research and development data is in constant use and demand by employees. Storing all this information in a confidential database on site has become a challenge, according to the firm.

A hospitality firm in the Netherlands with 200 employees finds that information retrieval requests surge at peak booking times and suspects this is because employees get so busy that they don’t want to spend any time looking for a document they can’t instantly locate.

Retrieval requests can be triggered by accidental data loss. A Spanish software firm with just under 50 employees explains that information often gets lost in transfer to and from off-site development, sales and support teams. Not all retrieval requests are internal. A telecommunications firm in Germany with several thousand employees says its data retrieval requests mainly come from law enforcement agencies looking for user call details to support criminal investigations.

Christian Toon, pictured, Head of Information Risk for Europe at Iron Mountain, said: “Data protection and information value are important areas worth taking seriously, but it is important to understand that they will also impact data storage and retrieval processes. We believe that tiered information storage is the answer: defining what is most used, most critical and most confidential, as well as what is essentially dormant, and then structuring your storage, access and back-up process accordingly. Keep high-value, highly active documents readily available, but relegate more archival and other types of information to more economical forms of storage. Our conversations reveal that this message is starting to get through, with respondents introducing centrally managed self-service data stores, supported by on-site and off-site discs, tape and cloud back up. This helps to ensure employees have access to the data they need, while minimising the impact on IT resources and reducing information risk.” Visit


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