The role of the information governance specialist or records manager is at a crossroads, specifically in customer-focused industries like retail, according to a survey from Iron Mountain. In fact, just one-third of retail businesses have a records manager. In traditional process-based businesses such as manufacturing, energy, and financial services, those numbers rise to 46, 48 and 50 percent respectively.
Additionally, 38% of these retailers admit they don't fully know what their information governance specialist does and only 45% say the role adds value to the business. By comparison, 79% of manufacturing and 74% of energy business leaders surveyed stated they clearly understand what their records manager does. However, despite the seeming uncertainty of their role, 92% of retailers said that the information governance specialist should play an important part in making the most of the organization's data. This trend will only continue as the security of customer information becomes more and more paramount as the frequency and consequences of data breaches increase.
A key point to consider then: why is there a gap between the stated need for records managers to be involved while at the same time, a significant percentage of this same group who is unaware of their role within the organization?
One possibility is that the type of information that records managers traditionally handle such as employee records, goes on "behind the scenes" and is not the type of information business executives are using every day. This analytical and ever-changing customer or sales data is business-critical and something the records manager should be involved in from the beginning. Additional data such as social media content and mobile communications are also areas which need to be governed and provide value to the organization.
The good news is that overall, business leaders are positive about the necessity of the skills records managers possess:
- 61% stated that the ability to approach information with a strategic outlook and an awareness of wider business goals is critical
- 68% called out the confidence to communicate effectively across other teams and departments
- 64% value the ability to make information easily accessible
- 62% stated that overall compliance, security and digital transformation skills were important
Sue Trombley, managing director of thought leadership at Iron Mountain, had the following to say "While there are signs that the natural habitat of the records and information manager is disappearing, the future looks bright for those willing to adapt."
Having an information governance strategy that includes all of your records throughout different departments is a crucial factor in maintaining vital data.