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Information Management In Today'S Business Environment

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Autor:  anton  30 June 2011
Tags:  Information,  Management,  Todays,  Business,  Environment
Words: 2056   |   Pages: 9
Views: 335

Information management in today’s business environment

Managing information is a complex and ongoing issue—and it’s vital to your business. Not only do you need to make sure that data is available to the right people at the right time, competitive pressures demand that data be leveraged to help you identify trends, respond more quickly to customers and to optimise day-to-day operations wherever information is used within your business.

Customer expectations are very high and grow higher with each interaction, so you must continue to improve the customer experience by making historical and transactional information readily accessible to your sales, service and marketing teams. Critical business information is needed at the CEO’s fingertips at all times to help make more informed business decisions.

Beyond day-to-day operations, today’s business environment is one of increasing regulations as well as more stringent internal corporate governance. Under these regulations and policies, information must be accessible and secure, and stored for long periods of time—for decades in some cases.

It is becoming increasingly important to capitalise on business information—transforming data into relevant, accessible information that creates business value. You must also find ways to sustain compliance and support governance mandates while controlling costs.

Why Records Management is Important

Documents are the by-product of captured business transactions and describe how organisations process and record their daily activities. Records are the official version of those business documents and become corporate assets used to document actions, decisions, and outcomes . Official document versions are records that must meet legal and regulatory laws as well as corporate operational obligations.

Today’s businesses are creating and receiving records at an astonishing rate. The volume of records is not only staggering but the records also come in a variety of formats such as :

• word processing documents

• emails

• faxes

• instant messaging

• text messaging

• digital images – scanned paper documents

• new media types such as blogs and wikis

• and these documents may reside on a variety of media:

• personal hard drives

• network drives

• backup tapes

• CDs and DVDs

• flash drives

...and some documents may also be created and reside temporarily on remotely attached devices like personal digital assistants (PDAs) or memory sticks.

Given the volumes of documents, combined with the diverse number of formats, companies are finding it nearly impossible to effectively manage their documents and records without an electronic records management system.


Data growth continues to accelerate beyond levels that can be easily managed – indeed, the overall quantity of data stored in electronic format is estimated to be doubling at a rate of less than every six months . A large proportion of this is driven by consumer storage of digital pictures, music and videos; but organisations are also seeing rapid growth in volumes of commercial data. This corporate data growth, often complicated by the need for internal and legal compliance, remains a major concern and has driven organisations to consider information storage and lifecycle management from a business point of view, rather than from a purely technical one.

For small to mid-sized organisations, this growth in data and information volumes runs the risk of being uncontrolled – not only will there be corporate information that needs managing, but also a mix of personal data, such as letters, photos and mp3s that may be being saved to central shared drives by end users. This blurring between the personal and the business is something that is difficult for a small to mid-sized organisation to effectively manage – a highly proscriptive approach can rapidly lead to employee demoralisation and to ineffective and inefficient work processes.

Many small to mid-sized organisations are simply drowning in data. While up to 80% of stored information may have little to no direct business value, it has proven difficult to identify which 80% this applies to. Data and information is stored on a “just in case” basis – to show compliance, good governance or the capability to trend information. Large organisations will often filter data as it is being stored and will utilise advanced search and retrieval tools to facilitate better information identification. For the small to mid-sized organisation, many of these tools are perceived to be out of reach from both a financial and complexity perspective – and yet the problems are just as acute for them as they are for larger organisations.

At a basic level, all information needs to be stored in a secure and resilient manner. However, these days this is not enough, and organisations have to ensure that information is easily available to meet the needs of individual applications, composite applications based around web services, reporting and business information tools and the needs of individuals within the organisation. The need for a “360 degree” view in many cases requires a means of bringing data together to ensure that decisions are built upon a contextual view of all the information available to an organisation – and not just on the data belonging directly to an application at any one point in time.

The main problems that small to mid-sized organisations find include: that they have had to overprovision their individual technical environments to meet expected peak loads, that multiple instances of applications have been introduced to meet specific needs, that information is being stored in multiple islands and silos and that far too much human resource is being utilised to manage and maintain the environment.

The first step for many small to mid-sized organisations is to look at how existing storage needs can be rationalised and consolidated. Through consolidation, the over-provisioning of the past can be brought under control – but only if the consolidation is carried out in a fully planned manner. Here, rationalisation to a minimum set of storage assets and to a common set of storage and information management tools will ensure a fully optimised solution.

What’s changed ?

Practically everything! To further complicate matters, everything keeps changing until, pretty soon, no one knows what has changed. They’re frustrated. They’re confused. Worse still, by this point, they no longer seem to care.

But ignorance and apathy are not excuses. You might be thinking of it this way: Your old records management program is like a steam engine—slower than the latest bullet train, maybe lacking all the bells and whistles, but it moves forward. It does the job.

WRONG! Until you get on board with the new reality of records management, your old program is only going to derail you.

TECHNOLOGY : Take a memo? No thanks. We’ve come a long way from the days of carbon copies and central filing systems. Today’s business communication walks on the wild side thanks to innovations like the Internet, email, instant messaging, and PDAs.

BUSINESS PROCESSES: Doing business is like catching a plane. You don’t buy a ticket for Perth if you’re headed for Sydney. You don’t board before you get to the airport. In other words, things have to happen in a certain order. And as business goals and circumstances evolve, you adapt your processes to keep pace.

REGULATIONS: The law won. With the post-boom bust in consumer confidence came a drastic drop in profits and a lot of financial faux pas. The end result: Government stepped in and reviewed the set of laws to teach businesses how to play by the rules.

PUNISHMENTS: As regulations grow in number and complexity, the consequences for non-compliance grow more severe. Do your job wrong, go to jail. Just because there are new laws for records management doesn’t mean that people abide by them. But it’s true—whether you’re a clerk or a CEO, you now face the threat of big fines and prison time.

COSTS: Money, money, money. Yesterday’s records management programs which haven’t delivered what they promised for whatever reason. You’re the one paying the price. The deeper you dig yourself into non-compliance, the more expensive it becomes to get out of the hole

Future Trends

It is safe to say that the volume of documents and records within a company will continue to grow because electronic technologies make it exceedingly fast and easy to create new documents. New technologies also help companies retain their competitive edge and are quickly adopted by records and information management workers, even while corporate IT lags behind. Blogs, text-messaging, and instant messaging (IM) are good examples of technologies that have not been fully accepted into the IT architecture but are increasingly used by records and information management workers.

Also on the horizon, and being recognised by records and information managers, are the application service providers (ASPs) that will “rent” you applications and storage via the Web. Serious questions exist as to the ownership and liability of these files when stored on a third-party site, or created using applications that cannot guarantee fidelity of structure, fixed date-stamping, or other critical RM �keys.”

Formats for documents are also changing as Adobe’s PDF is evolving into PDF/A, or PDF Archive, for long-term archiving and future readability.

This seemingly endless advance of technology will all need to be managed and controlled by a records and information management professional through a “system”. New document types, as well as formats, will need to be captured, classified, declared, and stored according to a records retention schedule. Electronic records management systems will become even more important to a company’s overall document management strategy and be more tightly integrated with the tools and systems used by knowledge workers.

Along with the growth of technology, document types, and formats, will come new rules and regulations that evolve in an effort to control technology itself. Existing legislation will most certainly change over time and records management systems must be able to quickly adapt to new rules as they appear. A key criteria for any records management system will be flexibility, adaptability, and extensibility (to new data types). In terms of compliance with legislation, records management systems are not passive keepers of archived documents but are actively involved in helping companies manage their compliance needs.

Need direction?

RMAA is a not-for-profit association and the leading authority on managing records and information (paper and electronic). RMAA members have access to invaluable resources, such as:

• Legislative and regulatory updates

• Standards and best practices

• Technology trends and applications

• Live and web-based education

• Marketplace news and analysis

• Books and videos

• Global network

Founded in 1969, RMAA has 3000 plus members, all of whom are professionals engaged in managing records and information. RMAA and its many branches and chapters are dedicated to helping individuals and organisations successfully meet the challenges associated with managing records and information in all formats.

Our members include records managers, legal professionals, IT managers, archivists, corporate librarians, imaging specialists, vendors and consultants, all of whom work in nearly every industry.

RMAA leads the direction and fosters the growth of the records management profession through actively setting standards and building the capability of the profession.

Through its international affiliations and its close association with industry and academia, RMAA ensures that its members are given access to a soundly-based professional recognition framework.

The RMAA vision recognises the changing requirements of business against a background of considerable economic challenge. It also acknowledges the continuing opportunity for the records management profession to actively contribute specialist knowledge for the delivery of records and information management solutions to business.

Visit our website at www.rmaa.com.au


Technology as a tool: Where is records and document management heading? – Frank McKenna – infoRMAA Quarterly November 2007 Vol:23 Issue 4

Building the intellectual architecture for records management – Conni Christensen – infoRMAA Quarterly, November 2007 Vol 23, Issue: 4

Gartner Surveys –accessed through www.gartner.com

Fogarty, Kevin. “Electronic Records: Courting Disaster?” Baseline 33 (August 2004): 70.

Flood, Gary. “Don’t Let the Fear Factor Blind You,” Information World Review, December 2004, Issue 208, retrieved through Business Source Premier, April 17, 2005.

Manion, Kevin. “Integrating Archives, Records, and Research,” Information Management Journal 39 (January/February 2005): 50-52, 54-55.

Myburgh, Sue. The New Information Professional: How To Thrive in the Information Age Doing What You Love (Oxford, England: Chandos Publishing, 2005).

Jeanne Young, “Electronic Records Management on a Shoestring: Three Case Studies,” Information Management Journal 39 (January/February 2005): 60.

�ODF Gains Standard Status’, The Information Management Journal, September/October 2006, p17. No author cited.

ANSI/AIIM/ARMA TR 48-2004 - Technical Report for Information and Image Management - Framework for Integration of Electronic Document Management Systems and Electronic Records Management Systems

ISO 15489 - Information and documentation — Records management - Part 1: General and Part 2: Guidelines (Technical Report)

More info:

Contact the author, Kate Walker FRMA MAICD AMIM,

MBA, BSC (BAdm), AdvDipBus (Rkg), DipBus (Adm),

Chief Executive Officer,

RMAA - Records Management Association of Australasia

T: 0409 250 795

E: kate.walker@rmaa.com.au

W: www.rmaa.com.au

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