Businesses are failing to properly manage their unstructured data, leaving them open to extra scrutiny from regulators over disclosure, and higher IT costs.

Up to 80 per cent of business data is unstructured, according to a new report from analysts Butler Group, called 'Document and Records Management'.

It contends that many firms need to modernise their document and records management (DRM), and put in place proper document and record management to make sure their IT users save information to a central repository. This would also offer cost savings as managing the data became a less onerous task, Butler Group said.

Sue Clarke, senior research analyst at Butler Group, said compliance remained the big driver behind DRM. But she added: “It is our belief that return on investment can be achieved and therefore DRM justified on the savings that can be made through the better management of information alone, although it is often difficult for business managers to justify the required budget on these grounds.”

Butler Group said businesses were now in “the second wave” of DRM, with many looking to replace or roll out their systems to a wider audience. The provision of software built on top of DRM systems meant organisations could bring together structured and unstructured information from multiple sources, to complete tasks initiated by the DRM system.

BMA calls for halt to care records rollout Many companies choose electronic DRM systems that provide workflows that support the lifecycle of a document, Butler Group said, but it warned that these systems do not necessarily provide extensive integration with other applications.

It said an enterprise content management platform with DRM capabilities would be better suited for many organisations that import a high percentage of their documents, have a need to integrate with structured and unstructured data, and require complex processes.

Careful implementation of DRM systems was vital, Butler Group said, or they risked a high cost of failure with the system not addressing the key points needed, or employee take-up being low if it does not work properly. Companies would need to focus additionally on securing that information, it said.