Electronic content classification for utilities

Solution Guides

If you're like your utilities industry peers, much of your organization's most critical information is created and maintained in unstructured content like office productivity documents stored in shared drives, collaboration tools and poorly indexed enterprise content management tools.

March 3, 20226 mins
Electronic Content Classification for Utilities

Business challenges

Decades of unmanaged, unstructured content

Your company likely uses large, specialized, integrated applications for many of your core processes to effectively provide water, sewage, gas and/or power to your customers. However, if you’re like your utilities industry peers, much of your organization’s most critical information is created and maintained in unstructured content like office productivity documents stored in shared drives, collaboration tools and poorly indexed enterprise content management tools. Vital information is difficult to find, use, distill actionable intelligence from and dispose of when no longer required.

Among the types of unstructured documents critical to utilities which can be discovered, classified and remediated are:

  • Right of Ways
  • Easements
  • Service Contracts
  • Billings
  • Maintenance Records
  • Service Records
  • Agreements
  • Engineering Documents
  • Customer Specific Documents
  • Employee Records
  • Employee Benefit and Payment
  • Records

Noncompliance with records management regulations

Under federal law, “public utilities and licensees must arrange, file and index records so records may be readily identified and made available to commission representatives.” 1 Beyond meeting compliance requirements, proper record keeping can also help your organization avoid significant business issues. For example, with poor records management, insufficient taxonomies and metadata to find the correct information you need when you need it, you risk incorrect parts getting replaced based on out of date schematics, which in turn can be the cause of natural disasters like wildfires.

Cumbersome business processes

Core utility functions such as Customer Service, Call Center Operations and Maintenance also require ready access to documents and records. When employees in these functions don’t know what content you have and where it is readily at their fingertips, it can increase cycle times and operational costs and decrease customer satisfaction. Without quick access to this information, providing self-service options to your employees and customers becomes nearly impossible.

What you gain:

  • Ability to know what you have and find what you need more easily
  • Informed decisions about what to keep and where to keep it (on premise or in the cloud)
  • Compliance with privacy laws and utility regulations
  • Position to prevent data loss, including privacy breaches and theft of high-value information
  • Better use of employee time and improved service responsiveness

How Iron Mountain and ActiveNav help utilities clean up unstructured content

Iron Mountain and ActiveNav have partnered to solve these problems for our utility customers. Iron Mountain utility industry taxonomies, retention schedules and expert Advisory Services combined with ActiveNav Discovery Center file analysis software bring order and compliance to unstructured content in shared drives, collaboration platforms, enterprise content management systems and email/collaboration platforms.

Remediate redundant obsolete or trivial (ROT) content

40% to 70% of utilities’ unstructured content is considered ROT.2 You’ll be able to identify document owners, duplicate content, non-records and content with personally identifiable information (PII) or sensitive data. Once identified, ROT is deleted or quarantined.

Classify content

The largest stumbling block to effective records management is the ability to identify records and classify them against a records retention schedule. Iron Mountain has predefined records retention taxonomies which are used with ActiveNav Discovery Center to classify your utility’s records.


If your organization is moving to the cloud or an enterprise content management solution, you can ensure that only the properly indexed content you need is moved while the rest is properly disposed of. You’ll be able to completely migrate to Microsoft 365, which includes discovery, classification, ROT cleanup and configuration of Microsoft 365 records management parameters.

Case study

A large California utility wanted to organize and clean up its unstructured content in preparation for migrating content from more than 1,000 shared files to an enterprise content management system. Working with Iron Mountain and ActiveNav the utility was able to remove over 60 terabytes, or over 40 percent of ROT data and create an end to end information governance program by:

  • Identifying files associated with different facilities through rules-based auto-categorization
  • Identifying and creating data classifications for sensitive data
  • Tagging official records and identifying content eligible for disposition (expired records)
  • Cleaning up, consolidating, and reorganizing data in file shares

1 Preservation of Records of Public Utilities and Licensees, Natural Gas Companies, and Oil Pipeline Companies, Title 18 CFR 125, 2(j)
2 Iron Mountain and ActiveNav, internal analyses