I just returned from the ARMA 2011 conference, held at the Gaylord Resort at the National Harbor in Maryland. I have been to ARMA several times in the past (more times that I would like to admit) and happy to see ARMA is pushing the envelope with the program and content. This is certainly required to keep the records management function relevant in today’s organization.
Going up, 17th floor please
The first time I attended ARMA, most of the attendees were either in the basement or locked away somewhere in some offsite storage facility. Records mangers were focused on paper records, ensuring records were retained in reliable and authentic manner and are ultimately disposed of in accordance with a retention schedule. Today, things are much different:
- Explosion in electronic content (formats, storage)
- Defined and stringent eDiscovery requirements
- Laws and regulations across multiple jurisdictions
- IT systems (often times with cryptic names)
- Privacy and security concerns
I am not going to bore you (again) on the consequences of information mismanagement – brand damage, stock price, fines, and revenue. This is precisely why the management of corporate information is becoming a topic of discussion at the executive level. Records management is beginning to report into legal and getting a seat at the table where strategic decisions are being made. I do warn you this trend is a little slow according to the latest Forrester survey, but it is changing. Galina Datskovsky, the president of ARMA suggested inserting yourself into these conversations about better ways of managing information.
Oh no, this blog is a record
It just occurred to me, “managing information” is just so broad and I hate when vendors use this term (oh wait, sorry). The term “information” means different things to different people. For some, this means paper records stored in some warehouse off the NJ Turnpike. For others in marketing, it may be the twitter feed on their products. Very different – for obvious reasons. I recall six years ago at ARMA, the big thing people were talking about was email. This year, ARMA decided to make the Tuesday morning general session around social media and records management. Wow, talking about pushing the envelope. This is from the same organization that not long ago was touting "electronic records were the future of records management."
The session (in the format of a vendor panel), talked about the many steps a company needs to integrate records management program with their social media strategy. The best takeaways from this session include:
- It all starts with policies – I have been saying this for years. Regardless of the source, format, location of the information, you need to define and validate the policies.
- Policies include more than retention – Everyone on the panel agreed policies should include data privacy, address metadata concerns, and address security concerns.
- All jurisdictions are not treated equal – This is a no brainer but should be mentioned. Each geographic region has its own set of laws, regulations, and requirements. This is especially around data privacy.
My favorite part of the session was when one of the panelists claimed their technology can determine if my tweets and blogs are sarcastic. Now, that’s awesome!
So, the second take away from ARMA is more practical advice on how to best govern all corporate records, which is currently outside the records management function. According to statistics, records management only deals with 10%-15% of the information within the organization – file shares, C drives, ERP systems, and social media content (blogs, tweets, etc). No surprise, SharePoint was a big discussion point. But that’s a different topic for another day.
Finally, information governance means something
Information governance is being used more and more –and not only by the vendors. At several customer meetings in our beautiful private suite, I asked the question. Does your company use the term information governance? The resounding answer was “yes”. We have customers leveraging the GARP maturity model to assess their information governance needs across departments and jurisdictions. Barclay Blair was walking around the expo floor asking people how they defined information governance. Can’t wait to see the results.
RSD defines information governance as the means of enforcing the desirable behavior in creating, using, managing, and deleting of all corporate information. Information governance is not search. Information governance is not a mechanism to justify increasing storage costs. Information governance does not mean you need to roll out hundreds of crawlers on your users desktops. Finally, information governance does not mean auto classification (which by the way does require some discussion).
At this year’s ARMA, RSD decided to declare itself as “the official sponsor of information governance”. This is for a reason. In addition to delivering a proven and patent-pending solution to market, RSD’s Bassam Zarkout was the only person at ARMA 2008 talking about information governance before information governance even was discussed by anyone. Now that’s cool.
Even though I think the show was a little slower this year, the event was excellent. I would like to personally thank ARMA for a great event and for all the attendees who took part in our contest. Who knew, the letter “A” was the most valuable button. RSD gave away five iPads - go Apple stock price. I would also like to thank Bob Williams from the Cohasset Group for organizing the MER Experience. The feedback from this track was extremely positive and I am proud RSD was part of this program.
Comments, questions, concerns? I would love to hear from you. See you in Chicago.