Today, when I tell people that we have market leading software for records management, their normal reply is "What is records management?" They aren't asking the question because they don't know about the records management department in their enterprise, but because they don't understand the domain of records management.
In many organizations, records management still exists in the basement of their building. I visited a client the other day and entered their building through its basement and there they were: records management. The irony, of course, is much of the value of an enterprise's business is locked away in these records - and perhaps more importantly - the records the enterprise is not aware of. But how long can an approach like this be sustained?
Conquering "Unknown Unknowns"
This is where the future of records management is headed: identifying and applying policy to the unknown records hidden in the enterprise. I have heard the term "Dark Data" applied to these records, along with all of the other invisible information in the enterprise.
The inherent risk that most companies face is not knowing what they don't know. This is the scenario in which the unknown becomes known due to some event that usually results in a negative outcome for the organization. Just as bad in the world of corporate knowledge is not being aware of what you do know. Another problem that records managers face in managing an enterprise's information stores is the overwhelming task of identifying and classifying this information into buckets based on its value to the enterprise.
This is where the future of records management is headed. It's about asset management and value preservation, not about file rooms and orderly control of the known records in an enterprise.
I recently attended an event that caters to the upstream energy industry segment. This event focused on innovation and the use of all types of technology to meet the future demands for energy in the world. The three executives who presented, each from different disciplines, highlighted the use of technology - as well as the under-use of technology - to solve the myriad of challenges faced by the modern enterprise.
One statistic was particularly telling: the presenter claimed they were using somewhere between 1 and 5% of the available information in the enterprise to make critical business decisions. Is this because the rest of the information is not valuable? Is this because it is not usable? Or is it because it is not readily findable?
Regardless, it highlights one of the most significant challenges facing enterprises today. There is a lot of data, but people can't find it, identify it, and therefore they can't use it. The next generation of records management must address this challenge.
Intelligent Records Management
Today, records management focuses on the known records and how to apply proper policy. In the future, it needs to focus on all of an organization's data, and apply policy accordingly - even if the policy is "No Policy." intelligent records management requires the discovery and application of policy to all content to be facilitated by technology, and specifically, automation technology. Automation is the path by which to turn records managers into asset managers.
Imagine if we were able to increase the availability and use of information for decision making by 30 or 40%. Our enterprises would be more profitable, more efficient, safer, and inherently more productive. In order for this to happen, the C-suite needs to lead an initiative to regularly reduce the amount of unknown information in the enterprise. For most companies, this represents an evergreen program that is likely lead by the records management team.
In my next post in this series, we will explore what that automation process may look like in more detail.