Analyzing past mistakes can be a big deterrent to making them in the future, and when you reflect on your past business decisions, it's not just about the first dollar you made. If you really think about it, your data contains precious memories, and often it's snapshots of the good and bad times. However, you never know how critical even a single piece of data is until Murphy's Law rears its ugly head and shows you. So, looking back and evaluating the past performance of your organization can help identify areas of weakness.
Business intelligence tools are critical to smart decision making. Extracting data and molding into usable reports via Microsoft Excel for example can help guide future growth. However you must have the historical data in order to perform this analysis and having a solid, tested backup plan is essential to making that work.
I have long trumpeted the use of electronic tools for retaining and archiving historical data. If you have tape drives or arrays and a limited budget, I would caution against tossing them aside. They could be repurposed for archival storage as one option, and moving them to some form of over-the-wire backup must be considered sooner rather than later (whether it's a direct attached disk-to-disk or a remote Internet-enabled scenario). Even more importantly, you should test your backups at least once per quarter via a test-restore to make sure they are viable regardless of your method of choice. It's always better to have too much information available than not enough because Murphy's Law #167 states that the one file you decide not to save will be the one you need! Consult with your trusted technology advisor and do your due diligence. The company you save just might be your own!