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Is 2015 finally the year of the data governance plan?

With the dramatic rise in the amount of corporate data being created, will companies finally turn to information governance to manage the information chaos?

Earlier this year, AIIM President John Mancini opined that "information chaos" had begun to eclipse companies' operations. According to recent data from IBM, 90% of the world's data has been generated over just the past two years. And, as Mancini noted, companies are drowning in that steady stream of enterprise information. They are totally unable to keep up with the capture, management, retrieval and destruction of their enterprise data.

While experts Steve Weissman of Holly Group and Laurence Hart of Word of Pie agree that information management problems have engulfed organizations, they aren't optimistic that 2015 is the year in which companies will say enough is enough. In a SearchContentManagement podcast, Hart and Weissman dished on upcoming trends in information management, including records management and information governance.

Records management

Steve WeissmanSteve Weissman

Weissman noted that records management is ripe for change, digitization and maturation, but "I tend to think it's further out," he said. "What we're likely to see is the greater incorporation of records functions as part of a broader information management and/or governance initiative at companies. The idea of this is percolating outside the RM [records management] community. But the records people don't have the political clout quite frankly to initiate the change. It's going to be initiated from some other direction -- a compliance officer, the lines of business, the CFO or legal," he said.

Hart noted that while the cost of storage is declining -- making it far easier to develop a solid records management strategy -- companies are still far from making information management a priority. He also discussed how technologies such as predictive coding and text analytics tools not only enable companies to categorize and retrieve information, but also allow them to add value through that categorization. "Not only can we categorize it early with predictive coding, which takes the burden off records managers and everyone else," Hart said, "but the same technology that lets us classify lets us pull value from the information now. We can search those saved meeting agendas and see how often a certain topic came up," which can be valuable in future planning.

Information governance

While most experts agree that records management needs to be part of a broader information governance initiative, companies are still limping along to incorporate information governance into daily practices. Few have created holistic governance strategies that incorporate physical and digital information and manage information from the moment it enters the four walls of a company to when it needs to be destroyed for compliance, legal or other reasons. We wondered, given the explosion in volume of information, whether 2015 is the year when companies will get serious about information governance. Weissman and Hart, however, weren't optimistic that companies -- despite costly lawsuits and warnings about information overload -- will move toward more comprehensive information governance strategies this year.

"Companies have struggled with these questions for 20 years, and even if they start today, they won't be done by 2015 -- and that's just the forward-looking ones," Hart said. "No, this won't be the year. It won't be the year for years. Companies are thinking, 'I'm going to go spend money on that CRM system, which is going to drive revenue' rather than spending money on governance."

Laurence Hart Laurence Hart

Weissman agreed that most companies lack the impetus to make governance a priority -- unless they have been the target of a costly e-discovery suit that required them to clean up their records, or they are forward-looking enough to get their information governance houses in order because they see it as part of software purchasing and planning.

"Organizations are used to doing things how they do things. It's just the cost of doing business," Weissman said. "The ones that will change are a very small percentage. The first of that small group are the ones that get sued. The other group, which is miniscule, is made up of those who realize when they are looking for one piece of technology, that this software sits in a broader ecosystem of information management tools and they need to look at it more holistically rather than simply rip out their old ERP and put in a new one. But they are rare."

Next Steps

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Records managers: Here's a reality check

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Does your company have an information governance plan?
Information governance plans are a must have for any business that collects customer data out there. This is important due to the current cyber security threats that are being carried out by guys with ill motives. My company collects customer and employee data for use in improving operations in the company. With an informational governance plan, I am able to prevent security breaches that may lead to identity theft and risks involving sensitive data breaches.