The pace at which our society produces information is staggering. Even worse, the amount of value of that information is typically only apparent after slicing it up in a particular way. Those of us that are naturally curious and problem solvers have gotten quite good at knowing where to find certain information as opposed to memorizing it.

There are certain things you sometimes just need to memorize. For example, driving laws. It’s much better to remember that you must always stop at a red light then having to look it up each time you approach an intersection.

Searching, by kevindooley

We have enough trouble with distracted drivers already.

Those of us that have figured out this critical skill often become technical support for others simply because we have become savvy with Google (or other search engines). In the last month, I have been asked at least a dozen questions that I didn’t know the answer to right off the top of my head, but thanks to my ability to find information, I was able to find an answer within minutes. In fact, I have gotten so good at this I have learned when I am doing something REALLY wrong based on the lack of abundant results. With millions of users out there, it’s pretty rare when someone else has not had the same issue that you have.

When it comes to securing information, finding information can sometimes be a challenge if the information is locked down. For example, let’s say that your company has a few hundred detailed engineering diagrams for your core products and services. How do you provide the same searching services to your internal customers without compromising the confidentiality of the data? Companies have proved time and time again that they cannot repel all attacks (and in many cases, they weren’t even giving it the old college try). With information sprawl getting exponentially worse, I can’t see the problem getting better unless we fundamentally change how we think about data management.

Before storing some kind of data, think if you should be the “custodian of record” for that data. In many cases, you probably shouldn’t be, and there is some service provider standing by to take that role. Take the following mantra to heart when thinking about data storage, “If I can look it up, don’t store it!”

This post originally appeared on BrandenWilliams.com.