By Megan Santosus\n\n\n\nShawn O\u2019Rourke is more focused on data management issues than many other CIOs. His organization, Boca Raton, Fla.-based NCCI Holdings Inc., manages a database of workers\u2019 compensation information for a clientele that consists primarily of insurance industry members and state regulatory agencies. The organization provides insurers in 37 states with all sorts of workers\u2019 compensation products and services, including rate recommendations, credit reports and aggregated employee injury statistics. Data is the lifeblood of NCCI\u2019s business, and O\u2019Rourke knows it. He also knows all the dangers and challenges of managing that data. One of these is data overload. It\u2019s not overload on the end user side of things that O\u2019Rourke finds worrisome; it\u2019s data overload on the front end.\n\n\n\nNCCI doesn\u2019t have a data overload problem itself. That\u2019s because, as part of a highly regulated industry, all the data NCCI collects is required and therefore has a specific business value. For other companies, however, O\u2019Rourke says that too much of the information they collect has no business value. Thanks to powerful enterprise content management (ECM) systems and inexpensive disk storage, \u201cdata collection is becoming easy and very pervasive,\u201d O\u2019Rourke says. \u201cMany times, organizations collect data simply because they can, not because there\u2019s a business need to doing so.\u201d The end result is the information management equivalent of the \u201cremodeler\u2019s syndrome": Companies can\u2019t resist collecting more and more data, \u201cwhile they\u2019re at it,\u201d only to contend with runaway costs and an ongoing maintenance headache. \n\n\n\nIt\u2019s a problem with all too many data collection endeavors; while gathering data and even storing it is fairly cheap and simple, managing it, retrieving it and planning for disaster recovery are expensive propositions, particularly when considering that much of the data has no business-specific need. \u201cIn terms of data management, CIOs behave much as they do when they are creating an application,\u201d O\u2019Rourke says. \u201cThey are pretty good at getting the specs up front but the ongoing management and maintenance is like an afterthought.\u201d\n\n\n\nAs O\u2019Rourke sees it, data collection shouldn\u2019t just be thought about on the front end in terms of getting an ECM and forgetting about it. Rather, collecting data is only one step of the data management process and one that should be reevaluated on a regular basis. \u201cTechnology has the responsibility to help the business make good decisions,\u201d O\u2019Rourke says. As such, CIOs have to tie data collection into the overall business strategy. Their first step: Think about how much of the data is delivering business value. If there\u2019s too much data that is collected simply because it can be, CIOs should create policies for curtailing both the collection of unnecessary data and the culling of superfluous data out of corporate systems. Then, and only then, should CIOs craft retention and archiving strategies that are appropriate.\n\n\n\nThe bottom line: CIOs, says O\u2019Rourke, have to look at data management in a holistic, and dynamic way. They need to determine what data their organizations need today, what data their organizations will need tomorrow and continuously revisit those approaches so that they can amend their organization\u2019s data collection and content management practices accordingly.