Archive Portal Europe

maandag 19 december 2011

DLM Forum’s triennial conference 2011: day 2 - Making Intelligent Information Control a Reality in Europe


13 December 2011
Making Intelligent Information Control a Reality in Europe
Rory Staunton, Managing Director, Strategy Partners (UK)

Rory Staunton did not waste time on niceties, but bluntly announced that the time had come for traditional archivists. Old records management seemed outdated to him. We now live in a time of coincidence. A coincidence of forces such as recession, new technology (at new prices) and increasing compliance.

Traditional records management seemed to fight these forces, but according to Staunton, we should be clever and use these forces. Secret records management: providing records management without people noticing you are doing it. A stark contrast to the popular image that we should bring records management to the (end)users.

Staunton set about how to use these forces.

Why does one need intelligent control? A question every archivist should be able to answer in my opinion. But Staunton provided us with some answers drawn from his own experience. Intelligent information control is needed because of the ever increasing and en enduring scrutiny we need to work under. Transparency comes at a price. Next to scrutiny there is operational safety for which we need intelligent control. Humans are humans and we make mistakes. Human disfunctioning needs technical checks: it needs intelligent information control. But despite our own shortcomings, people distrust technical solutions. One will trust the paper files stored in the cabinet behind them (it’s there isn’t it?), but will distrust digital files. Adding insult to injury: digital information management in some minds leads to too much transparency. We can record everything.

So a paradox seems to emerge: the compliance industry is growing, but the number of implemented records management systems is not. One feels to lose control over content. But in any event archives are still expected to serve compliance needs, but see little resources allocated to them to actually fore fill these needs.

But according to Staunton successful compliance is not so much about technic as it is cultural. One has to change the organization and the prevailing culture: fighting the three way chasm: records management altruism, IT departments are de facto run by IT vendors, Business is run by stockholders.

Records management is done more for the benefit of others (you can certainly find your own records), so records management is hardly done at all. MoReq2010 is considered a game changer by Staunton and Strategy Partners for business managers, consumers and government. ­MoReq2010 does not ‘fit’ in IT, because it does not consider IT as an strategy, but as a list of technologies. It’s about information compliance and as such is driven by business. Business considers costs and substitution of technology is costly. MoReq2010 supplies interoperability which renders substitution less costly. Combining cost reduction with records management MoReq2010 uses a horizontal instead of vertical approach to records management. So I think what Staunton says is that MoReq2010 frees records management of pure altruism.

IT departments are part of the problem since due to outsourcing they are de facto run by IT vendors. IT vendors by definition propagate technology solutions instead of human or customer solutions: the service level agreements you agree on do not concern control. You are very much not in control, since instead of service delivery they are about service performance. But this goes beyond new SLA´s. It´s about thinking about new organizational formats where legacy thinking is ousted and duty of care is welcomed: it should be about delivery of results.

By using financial arguments one can push MoReq2010 and records management. Under a recession stockholders and business owners are eager for financial opportunities. The theme of substitution should not be about technology choices. It’s a lifestyle choice. Substitution should have a Return On Investment (ROI): MoReq2010 can be used to gain compliance and enables a ROI when substituting technology. MoReq2010 saves money.

Recession and stockholders are never a good combination, but for records managers there are opportunities.

More information on Strategy Partners and Moreq2010.

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