Faced with the rapid renewal of their operational data, the transformation of their strategies, and the surge of technological innovation, organizations are developing a paradoxical attention to the documentation of their activities. The basic principles of risk management are driving them to provide long-term protection for their data.
But are organizations right to limit the role of archiving to its role of preserving memory over the long term? What if archiving is as much about preserving the past as it is about preparing for the future?
Data archiving: the Svalbard complex
Precisely because the production and expiration of operational data is accelerating, organizations need to learn how to retain it over the long term. With the help of their business history, those who embark too quickly on a risky development can retrace their steps; others can understand and replicate the keys to their success.
To do this, organizations cannot be satisfied with a simple backup, which is primarily intended to prevent disaster or accident and does not guarantee long-term preservation. Only archiving allows them to aim for preservation and, if necessary, accessibility of their data over several decades. It is accompanied by solutions to combat cyber threats, such as the air gap, which keeps a copy of files offline, inaccessible to attacks. Beyond cyber security, archiving aims to preserve the digital heritage of organizations.
Svalbard: an archive for disaster recovery?
Cyber-resilience measures such as the air gap are reminiscent of another large-scale project for the long-term protection of heritage. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is an ambitious international project to preserve the genetic heritage of food crops around the world.
Located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, in the Arctic Circle, this immense isolated vault currently preserves an impressive catalogue: more than 980,000 samples from 300 plants grown on five continents. They are kept at a temperature of -18°C for optimal conservation. Specialists regularly and successfully test their reintroduction into a cultivated environment.
Just like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the archive servers want to act as a time capsule, preserving vital company information and knowledge at a given moment t. As information ecosystems develop faster - or worse, in the event of a disaster - data from the past informs the company's future.
Data archiving, preserving a heritage to anticipate the future
In 2020, however, the main added value of file archiving no longer lies solely in the long-term preservation of data. This would mean neglecting its crucial role in the emergence of new technologies based on artificial intelligence or machine learning.
It is the historical and archived data that today feeds the predictive mathematical models of these new tools in many sectors (agronomy, industry, astronomy, chemistry, finance, etc.). Thanks to these new technologies, data archiving anticipates and builds the organization's future, based on the preservation of its past.
The "end of the story" thanks to predictive mathematical models
Ambitious projects exploiting the predictive potential of artificial intelligence have been multiplying for several years.
One of them, that of the modelling of historical dynamics by biologist Peter Turchin, uses the power of Big Data in a particularly visionary way. While history remains a field of research often limited by the isolation of experts, Peter Turchin and his team are revolutionizing their methodologies by facilitating the systematic analysis of very large volumes of historical data. Historians can more easily draw conclusions that allow them not only to better understand the past, but also to anticipate the future. Peter Turchin's team has specialized in detecting patterns of political instability across more than 450 societies, across all eras and most countries of the world. It now believes that it can issue warnings when its tools detect similar patterns of instability in today's societies. For example, it had predicted a difficult political period for British and American societies - an anticipation that unfortunately seems to be true.
From the instability of a society to the instability of an organization's activities, the parallel is quickly drawn. Thanks to artificial intelligence, data archiving becomes the key to any development strategy.
Archived data preserves an organization's heritage over time, or even towards its outright oblivion. But it is also, and above all, an indispensable element in preparing for its optimal development, thanks to new tools based on predictive artificial intelligence. And AI needs fuel - data - to perform well in the game. High value-added deposits often reside in cold, archived old data.
File archiving is therefore not only a defensive and reactive measure for legal risk management. If the organization takes a proactive approach, it can get a head start on its future.
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