What Is Information Lifecycle Management? (With Strategies)

Updated November 14, 2022

Most organizations collect, generate, and store information related to their operations and business. As this information can be crucial to their productivity and profitability, it's vital for them to manage it effectively. Learning about information lifecycle management may help you better understand how businesses store and access information. In this article, we answer the question, "What is information lifecycle management?", examine some strategies and processes, and list various goals of this approach to managing data.

What is information lifecycle management?

Knowing the answer to “What is information lifecycle management?” can help you better understand how a company uses its data to operate the business. Information lifecycle management (ILM) refers to the process of overseeing business data to optimize its use and lower a company's costs. ILM also tries to reduce the compliance and legal risks that the data might present. ILM helps businesses use data, metadata, and applications.

It begins with creating or recording information and covers usage, maintenance, storage, and retrieval. The last stage of ILM involves disposing of, destroying, or permanently keeping the data. It's important for organizations to manage all their information in a secure and protected way, especially if they work with personal and confidential information. Information lifecycle management best practices include storage optimization and methods to improve data quality, utility, and safety.


  • Why Do Companies Collect Data? (With Various Methods)

  • What Is an Information Management System? (With Features)

Information lifecycle management strategies

Most ILM strategies begin with market research. Organizations conduct this research by collecting large amounts of information that can help them make critical decisions. They conduct research to determine the products on which to focus, on which customer segments to concentrate, and the best ways to produce, distribute, or manage those products or services.

After collecting this data, it's important for businesses to have organized processes for classifying, storing, and retrieving their information. Strategizing how to delete information is also essential for organizations, as compiling and storing too much information can make data retrieval unwieldy and inefficient. Setting up processes for authorizing who may access certain information and when is also often essential.

Related: Types of Management Information Systems (With Definition)

Processes of information lifecycle management

Different businesses and industries often manage information lifecycles with different processes. It depends on the amount of data an organization collects, the nature of that data, and what the organization hopes to do with it. It's possible to classify ILM into the following phases:

Data collection

Businesses seek reliable sources, both online and offline, from which to collect data. While offline sources help them gather data that is specific to their industry, data from the internet and social media platforms are useful sources of large volumes of data.

Data creation

As an organization operates, it generates and collects information on a large scale. Organizations typically record data daily, and this information can relate to all of its processes. They usually store this information digitally, and data might include information related to inventory, attendance, invoices, transactions, and customer comments and queries.

Data classification

Effective ILM requires businesses to classify collected data before storing them. Classification makes it easier to store, access, and retrieve data. Large companies often manage databases that store information categorically. They may use many processing facilities, and this can make the information more valuable. It's often best to keep and classify large data sets in tiers for easier retrieval and more efficient management.

Related: Data vs. Information (With Definitions and Differences)

Data archiving

The longer you collect information, the more of it you compile. As these data can become difficult to sort and store, it's often beneficial to archive data periodically. This allows organizations to make the information available when needed, ensuring that the latest and most relevant data is easier to access.

Data security

Organizations are responsible for securely storing both real-time and archived information. This makes cybersecurity crucial for ILM. Cyber attacks, hacks, and data leaks are serious threats from which organizations protect their information and client data.

Data disposal

Data becomes obsolete over time for numerous reasons, such as changing policies, adopting new processes, and implementing different strategies. Outdated information can cost organizations a significant amount of resources because of expenditures related to data security, processing, and storage. Periodic information assessment is beneficial for removing obsolete data.

Data assignment

Data management is often expensive, and it requires frequent careful assessment. Organizations can gather and store bulk data to use later. They can retrieve and analyze this old data to find comparison points and identify patterns. Assigning which information might be useful to decision-making is an essential aspect of ILM.

Related: Data Governance: Definition, Benefits, and Best Practices

Goals of information lifecycle management

Information lifecycle management is an essential process for organizations that handle large quantities of data. Businesses such as media companies, banks, tech firms, and insurance companies all rely heavily on ILM. Information is a key asset for different businesses because it helps them succeed in competitive markets. ILM implementation can positively transform an organization's data management practices, resulting in significant benefits. Here are some goals organizations might have when implementing successful ILM strategies:

Improving service

Managing and archiving information is a time-consuming process that sometimes becomes a distraction for certain teams within an organization. For instance, a company's IT and legal departments may spend significant amounts of time on ILM. Organizations can focus more time and resources on serving customers and following their business strategies if they spend less time on information management requests.

Related: How Businesses Use Information (With Information Types)

Increasing savings

By reducing how much information it stores, a business can also reduce costs. Effective ILM solutions reduce digital debris, which is digital information without any value but located deep within a storage system. By eliminating waste, a business can reduce storage costs and improve how it searches within its data, enabling staff to find information more quickly. Effective ILM also means eliminating duplicated data that requires excessive storage space.

Improving customer service

Organizations that quickly retrieve customer details can provide their clients with more enjoyable interactions. Being able to access a client's pertinent information just by knowing their phone number may impress clients and make their interaction with a business easier. Effective ILM helps companies resolve customer queries faster and increases customer satisfaction, leading to stronger brand loyalty and positive reviews that attract new customers.

Optimizing performance

Organizations can optimize their processes after quantifying their performance and comparing it to their plans. Monitoring related processes allows companies to understand the time required to complete certain tasks and measure the success or failure rates. For instance, an e-commerce business may gain valuable information regarding the average time a customer spends on its website, the volume of transactions over a period, and the time taken per transaction.

Effective management of that information enables the business to optimize its website's performance. Good information lifecycle management can also allow for better governance. ILM enables the leadership of an organization to introduce management controls that benefit the business.

Related: Application Lifecycle Management (Stages and Importance)

Reducing risk

Organizations can use ILM solutions to minimize the volume of non-essential information. This reduces the risk of data loss, leakages, and the discovery of unfavourable content. Businesses that know where to find electronically stored information are less likely to miss or overlook critical data when searching.

Minimizing potential compliance issues

There are different federal and provincial or territorial laws that apply to how different industries store and use certain types of data. It's crucial that businesses and organizations comply with these laws and industry standards. For instance, one of the most important factors customers look for in a bank or financial institution is security. A bank can only be successful if it can keep its customers' information secure.

A financial institution likely keeps information, such as transaction details, financial records, and contact information. Verifying, updating, and maintaining this information forms a key part of a bank's services. Financial institutions are also responsible for preserving tax-related data and may file this information with the relevant authorities. ILM enables organizations to update their information routinely and file that information in the correct format.

Improving legal responses

Organizations that expect to perform legal processes regularly can benefit from effective procedures for analyzing their database information. Metadata might offer a business crucial information about why it's facing certain legal actions and enable it to make corrections to avoid such situations in the future. The data may also help organizations find and collate enough evidence to counter legal actions against them.

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