Recent high-profile mergers, acquisitions and divestitures in the food and beverage industry highlight the tremendous growth potential the industry has to offer. And while typically viewed as favorable strategies for achieving growth and improved profitability, sizeable business and information technology changes that accompany corporate transformations place emphasis on ensuring that data is protected and systems are running efficiently. The recipe for success in the food and beverage industry begins with a system that effectively handles high volumes of data, and is adaptable to ever-changing demand and regulation.
Many organizations undergoing this process do not have a data archiving strategy in place to keep up with the excessive data volume demands. These organizations sell a high volume of goods to a large number of customers and those customers receive the goods through intricate supply chains, spanning immense distribution networks. To process and move inventory quickly, food and beverage companies require real-time access to all of this information to make swift business decisions. A data archiving strategy can help by reducing data volume and complexity, so that the business can access data flexibly and efficiently.
Putting an archiving strategy in place, or updating an existing strategy, can lead to tangible near-term results, including cost savings, increased productivity and risk mitigation. Two ways organizations can reduce data volume, even if there is already an existing archiving strategy, are by reducing online data residency periods and automating processes to ensure that archiving is done consistently. Data that has met its prescribed residency period must be promptly archived and stored, and if done consistently, the system will perform more efficiently, with faster back up, upgrade and recovery times.
Improving system efficiency leads to increased productivity from the workforce, which can be particularly beneficial during a corporate transformation. Automating archiving tasks enables critical IT resources to focus on other high priority tasks that require attention and help ease the burden of a corporate split. With less data to manage and a controlled, repeatable archiving strategy in place, employees can focus on coordinating other aspects of the corporate transformation, greatly reducing the number of early mornings, late nights, and weekends employees must work during these critical periods. Solutions that reduce the time and effort required to manage data during large-scale corporate transformations not only improve productivity but also the quality of work from the workforce, which is the best way to ensure a successful, problem-free transformation.
A prominent issue facing organizations undergoing a merger, acquisition or divestiture is the inability to readily produce information necessary for a tax audit. Due to more pressing priorities, companies frequently forget to stay current with their archiving tasks during a corporate reorganization, but this is both shortsighted and risky. The large volumes of data generated by the business, combined with the complex nature of financial or regulatory audits, makes it essential for these companies to stay current with data archiving tasks. Not only is archived data faster to extract, making it is easier to respond to complex audit inquiries and avoid potential late-response penalties, it is also frozen and securely stored, so auditors have greater confidence in the data provided.
Another factor to consider is potential risks that could be incurred during the transfer of sensitive corporate intellectual property. Particularly in the food and beverage industry information such as competitive pricing, manufacturing costs, and unique recipes must be protected to avoid exposing the organization to risk. When undergoing a system handover as part of a corporate split or divestiture, it is essential that organizations have a solution in place to remove sensitive master and transactional data, whether it is online or archived. Any data that cannot be removed should be masked or encrypted to reduce the potential security risk.
For mergers and acquisitions, an archiving strategy ensures that the new company has less online data to manage, which makes it is easier to consolidate systems or decommission legacy systems that will no longer be needed post-merger. Archived data can be easily accessed from a single repository by all active applications, in its original format and in its original context. The newly formed company can, therefore, move forward quickly with the systems and processes it wants to retain, secure in the knowledge that legacy processes and data are preserved and old systems can be safely retired.
Lastly, using archiving to reduce the amount of data and increase productivity will result in overall lower costs. Hosted storage services can be expensive, and reducing overall data volume can be a boon to an organization’s cash flow. The most cost effective strategy aligns the type of storage with the data’s inherent business value, and allows for a balance between performance and storage cost. Data that isn’t used often can be kept in a lower cost, long term solution, such as cloud storage and stored until it’s no longer needed, while remaining accessible for a tax audit.
In conclusion, a proactive and comprehensive data management strategy will help organizations adapt quickly during corporate transformations by increasing productivity, managing risk, and lowering costs. Whether a company is managing a corporate divestiture or a merger and acquisition, keeping data volume low will ensure that systems continue to operate at peak performance throughout the transformation. It also makes it easier to move on to new systems or retire legacy systems if required. Automating the archiving process sustains the benefits of archiving during this hectic period, freeing essential employees to focus on higher priority tasks and reducing the burden shouldered by employees during times of rapid change. Finally, moving legacy data into a single repository makes it faster and easier for users to retrieve data needed for reporting purposes, or to respond to audit inquiries. Overall, having a data archiving strategy makes the entire corporate transformation seamless for the business and enhances the benefits realized by the company.
Dr. Werner Hopf is the CEO and Archiving Principal at Dolphin Enterprise Solutions Corp.