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2004 compliance predictions: Cheap storage, compliance investments and e-mail archiving

Compliance/data retention strategy expert Mike Casey reports in with his predictions for 2004. He sees serious money being spent in 2004 to plan and deploy compliance solutions in light of looming deadlines. Headway will be made in archiving rapidly growing volumes of e-mails and storage will just keep getting cheaper.
1. The year of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance

Large U.S. enterprises will make serious investments to meet 2004 compliance deadlines for CEO/CFO certification of internal controls on financial reporting. Companies -- and their auditors -- will focus first on accounting, record keeping and reporting procedures. Many ERP and workflow systems will be enhanced to ensure rapid, consistent access to key records and data. Well-defined record-retention policies and effective storage solutions will be important keys to success.

2. The year of HIPAA preparation

With the compliance deadline for the HIPAA Security Rule looming on the horizon in April 2005, large health insurance firms will establish plans and deploy solutions in 2004 so they can complete validation testing before the deadline arrives. Large healthcare providers will also scramble to comply with HIPAA requirements before the deadline.

3. The peak of tactical e-mail archiving

Vendors of tactical e-mail archiving solutions will do well in 2004 as companies take action to manage e-mail messages as business records. Driving factors include regulatory compliance requirements -- such as SEC Rule 17a-4 for broker-dealers -- as well as litigation discovery risk reduction and the desire to improve employee productivity and reduce the cost of storing and managing e-mail and attachments.

Over the longer term, enterprises will look for solutions that can be leveraged for creation of a strategic enterprise data archive that embraces multiple applications and data types.

4. The discovery of discovery

Litigation discovery will move from archive inhibitor to archive driver. Legal opinion and corporate practice will abandon the "delete all" approach to e-mail and other key records, recognizing that a complete and readily-accessed record typically reduces risk and limits the cost of legal discovery. Discovery and compliance requirements will accelerate the move toward saving more data for longer periods as a matter of good policy.

5. Cheap storage

Yes, storage will keep getting cheaper. And cheap storage will enable companies to cost-effectively store more data for longer periods. This is a good thing.

To take full advantage of these trends, companies must develop intelligent archiving policies, processes and infrastructure that reflect their business needs as well as their legal discovery and regulatory compliance requirements.

Mike Casey

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