What Should Document Management Firms Know About Automation Of Information Governance

By Douglas Miles, Director of Market Intelligence at AIIM

Automating-InfoGov2014-CoverRecently I started telling you about the results of an interesting global survey my organisation, AIIM , the global community of information professionals, had carried out on automating information governance (go here for your own free copy of the report ‘Automating Information Governance – assuring compliance’ www.aiim.org/research).

If it’s OK, I’d like to carry on and do a bit more about that now, as I think there are many issues in there that are relevant to the Document Management community, as reflected in a lot of the conversations I see here on the DM Collaborators’ platform.

More specifically, I wanted to pull out just a couple of data points from the report which I think could be of interest to you. Why do I say that? Well, think of where information governance as a concept itself comes from: we used to think of it as really an updated form of simple records management (RM). What’s changed over the years is the rise, of course, of something all DM (or ECM) folks will be more than aware of: metadata. We know, as practitioners and subject matter experts, that we have to work a lot harder to protect live content and preserve content records – a task made harder by the volume, velocity and variety of content generation. Those multiple ‘Vs’ are, in some people’s eyes at least, making it near impossible to manually maintain and enforce the information governance/security policies we set.

A growing problem with volume

Which would be a shame, as users know that information governance helps. In this study alone, the benefits from good information governance were singled out as slashed storage and infrastructure costs (a tangible cost-saving benefit), followed by improved explotation/sharing of organisational knowledge, followed by faster response to events, accidents, press activities, etc. There’s a lot of information flowing both in and out of your organisation now, remember.

Those ‘Vs’ have also started to prompt many of us to think the automation of real-time compliance processes might well be the only realistic answer to the challenges we all face around information governance enforcement. Let’s dive a bit more into the specifics of what we found information managers to be really doing about this, out there on the ‘coal face.’ Well, for a start, organisations are likely to increase spend on all aspects of information governance in the next 12 months – in particular around training, email archive, search, RM systems and automated tools. That could be intriguing news for any DM/EMC companies out there, potentially… with those same companies also likely to be interested in our finding that no one in our global sample of 500 managers is reporting a decrease in electronic record loads – indeed, 70% report “rapidly increasing” volumes.

But as we have moved from the paper records era to this new expanding one of electronic records, if all the content needs to be managed for security, accessibility and lifetime, the involvement of IT is paramount (even if the ultimate responsibility still lies with the Records Manager or – increasingly – a new class of manager, the Compliance Officer). It is this level of budget control that is most in the firing line, as it were, for all things information governance related now, it seems. Could they, in fact, be the people the DM community needs to be engaging with, to be having the compliance conversation with now? It’s an interesting thought.

I’m going to leave you with a final point from the study (though I would encourage you to explore it for yourself – download it for free here: www.aiim.org/research) – I really am only skimming the surface in this blog): I think there is a real on-going issue for information managers (and hence organisations in general) around archiving.

Of this sample, 84% say they don’t delete emails and electronic records in a formal way compared to 45% for paper records. This suggests some confusion: it may be that they do not have defined retention periods, they are not actually be carrying out destruction when the retention period is up or they may wait until other factors such as storage space come into play. What’s really interesting is that for paper records (other than those managed by an electronic system), destruction is normally a manual process… but so, it would seem, is the deletion of electronic records and email! After all, just 20% have automated email deletion and just 9% have automated systems in place to delete electronic records at the end of a defined retention period.

Time to start a conversation?

What do all these (and the others in the study) data points tell us about the issues, then? Realise that without policies and mechanisms for defensible deletion of content in place, they will have to lash out increasing amounts of money on storage, plus incur risk holding on to content that it would be safer to delete. As a result there is strong interest in automated tagging, metadata correction and records classification. There is a general view emerging in the market, meanwhile, that this is fast shaping up to be the only way to demonstrate compliance, reduce litigation risk – and have a chance of keeping some check on the rapidly growing volumes of stored content.

Is it time you opened up the conversation with your customers on how to move to automated information governance with the help of DM and ECM? The signs suggest strongly that it might well be …

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