A key facet of the enterprise data explosion is the enormous disparity between the effort we expend on generating data compared to managing it. That isn't terribly surprising. In most business contexts, the generation of data goes hand in hand with the generation of revenue. The one element those endless piles of invoices, part drawings, production records, marketing proofs, and product photos have in common is that they were all created to chase after revenue.
However, the revenue benefits of managing data are not as easy to prove -- and almost always require more effort than companies want to expend. But there are benefits. For example, if you took all those invoices and put them into an accounting package, you could improve the efficiency of your bookkeepers and cut costs. Or if you built a content management system to house your product photos, you'd marginally decrease your storage requirements and stave off a primary storage upgrade for a few more months. Although managing data after it has been created is less sexy than making it in the first place, it can be worthwhile when done correctly.
Don't overlook deleted data
The one part of data management that has absolutely no fun associated with it is handling the very last part of data's lifecycle: its deletion. People seem to avoid deleting data like the plague -- the thought of accidentally deleting something that might be needed inspires terror. Then when data does need to be deleted, it's frequently not deleted correctly or thoroughly. The danger of allowing supposedly deleted data into the wild is ever present and requires real discipline to prevent.