The advice given in Kenny Rogers’ ballad, “The Gambler,” is fitting for governance professionals charged with implementing document remediation or content migration initiatives:


The way you find out out what kind of documents you’re holding is that same way you find out what cards you’re holding in a poker game: look at them.

Don’t theorize about them or hope you understand them or think you can predict what’s in them, simply look at them.

The best way to do that is to use visual classification technology to group or cluster visually-similar documents. That way, all you have to do is examine a few documents per grouping to know what they are.

From that point, it becomes a fairly manageable task to determine what to do with each cluster. Documents with no business, regulatory, or litigation significance can be disposed of. Documents that are deemed “records” can be given a document type label, assigned a business “owner” and a specific retention period.

For example, the following grouping of documents could be called “Pipeline Survey Reports,” and assigned a permanent retention period:

Pipeline Survey Report Group or Cluster

Trying to manage documents without being able to examine or classify them is like being (to quote another line from “The Gambler”) “on a train bound for nowhere.”

Lyrics found on

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