Sheila Taylor is a well known consultant, educator, speaker and writer with more than 20 years of experience in the information management (IM) field.
Sheila Taylor is a well known consultant, educator, speaker and writer with more than 20 years of experience in the information management (IM) field.
(Please note: Some cartoons originally posted in this article caused some technical difficulties, so they have been temporarily removed and replaced with links. Hopefully we will be able to restore the original images soon.)
I’m always on the look out for humourous cartoons to use in training materials and the Dilbert comic strip by Scott Adams continues to delight. Over the years, I’ve found great strips on a variety of information management topics like the discoverability of e-mail, original or ‘wet ink’ signatures, and records retention. I’ve been using the following records retention strip for many years to give students a humourous look at how not to do records retention.
I also mine Dilbert for cartoons on topics related to the practice of information management such as strategic planning, project management, social media, cloud computing, and email usage. Check out the end of this post for some of my favourite strips on these and other topics.
I found Scott Adams’ July 19th characterization of off-site storage as putting “trees in jail” particularly funny, but also very apt. There are lots of organizations whose sizeable collections of poorly indexed and rarely accessed records are effectively serving life sentences off-site because retention periods (even if they exist) can’t be applied without significant time and effort. How many of your organization’s records are in jail?
If you’re not a follower of Dilbert (you can set an alert to receive each day’s new strip here), you may also want to check out his July 18th post about of-site storage.
Dilbert cartoons are searchable here and there are options to buy, license, share, email, and print each strip. Although the site says strips are available from January 1, 1989 to date, I wasn’t able to find some of my favourite strips when I searched the site by keyword/subject. But I could find them if I searched by publication date (or clicked through numerous strips covering the approximate time periods in which I thought they were published). Here are some of my favourite IM and IM-related posts. Enjoy!
Does your company have a Chief Data Officer (CDO) yet? In a December 2012 report, Gartner group reported on the trend towards this new C-level leader in large organizations responsible for dealing with the threats and opportunities created by increasing information complexity and incoherence. Gartner predicts that by as early as 2017, 20% of large enterprises will have a CDO on their senior management team.
As with any new role, there’s still a lot of confusion around what a CDO’s responsibilities are and what their relationship should be with other leaders in the organization, particularly information-related roles such as Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO). The Harvard Business Review compares the CDO to the emergence of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) several decades ago. As then with the CMO, creating a CDO position seems like a good idea, but the practical implications are far from worked out. It seems fairly clear at this point that the CDO’s main responsibilities lie in the area of information governance, but, as Forresters points out, there’s still no clear consensus on what this might entail, whether the CDO should report directly to the CEO or somewhere lower down, and how such a major shift in leadership responsibility might actually happen in practice.
Even though it may take a few years, I suspect CDOs will eventually become common and be a critical part of the leadership team in many organizations. And unlike any other change in the C-suite in recent decades, the rise of the CDO has direct implications for records and information managers.
In this 2008 brief (which is the earliest reference to the CDO position I have found), Deloitte contrasts the role of a CDO with current information-related roles. They posit that most information governance today is custodial in nature — managing and controlling data, ensuring it is accessible and discoverable, keeping costs down, etc. The CDO’s job, they say, is to turn information into a strategic asset, developing systems and methods for creating opportunities that would not otherwise be seen within the vast amounts of data within an organization.
What does this mean for information managers? First, I think just being aware of the existence of the CDO position in a growing number of organizations should create an occasion for self-reflection — are we, as today’s information managers, simply information custodians? If we think outside the box of our traditional roles, is there an opportunity for strategic initiatives and developing systems which could create benefits and opportunities for our organizations? Normally we think of this type of thing as the province of the CIO or CMO (e.g. big data), and perhaps we should start exploring how we could support them in their strategic goals for our organizations.
Second, in organizations considering the creation of a CDO position, what does this mean for the redistribution of responsibility at senior levels and how might this affect your department? In a company with a CDO reporting to the CEO, the CIO’s responsibilities become mainly focussed on information/data infrastructure. The CTO becomes more exclusively focused on creating new technologies and possibly commercialization of those technologies. A records and information management department may quickly find itself reporting to a new CDO with a vastly changed mandate, or shuffled off into irrelevance. We often think of the organizational shifts of senior management as either irrelevant or out of our control, but in fact we have a lot to offer any senior leaders looking to harness an organization’s data, and we owe it to ourselves and to our employer to make sure our views are known at the highest levels of the organization.
And finally, is the CDO’s office a reasonable destination in the career path of a records or information manager? The skillset of a CDO is not just technical, although there is an IT component to it. It also requires substantial business savvy, and perhaps most importantly an understanding of information and how it can be created, organized and directed. This last area is one in which information managers arguably have greater competence than anyone else in the organization. As a long term career goal, becoming a CDO is higher than most information managers have probably considered, but I think there may well be a viable path to the C-suite, at least in some organizations, for those of us who have the right skills and leadership potential.
AIIM First Canadian Chapter will be hosting a multi-disciplinary panel consisting of myself, Susan Nickle and Chuck Rothman, providing a records management, legal, and technological perspective on the following topics:
This fall I will once again be teaching courses in the University of Toronto iSchool Institute’s two certificate programs in Records Management. I will be teaching two of the five courses in the Records Management Fundamentals certificate, and two of the five courses in the Records Management Practice Certificate. Each course is one day, and is an excellent professional opportunity for beginning and intermediate records and information management professionals. The dates below are for the Toronto location, but the courses are also offered in Ottawa, Edmonton and via the web. For a full list and description of the courses, visit the iSchool Institute.
Many organizations have vast accumulations of unstructured (and usually uncontrolled) information such as word-processed documents, spreadsheets, emails and social media content. What does unstructured information cost an organization?
Barclay T. Blair, President and Founder of ViaLumina, set out to answer that question and the following related questions earlier this year:
In a white paper – The Total Cost of Owning Unstructured Information – that he wrote for Nuix, Mr. Blair identifies 10 key factors that drive the total cost of owning unstructured information. They are:
He also provides examples of cost drivers (i.e. elements that typically increase cost) and cost reducers (i.e. elements that typically reduce costs). For example, he cites outdated and unenforced policies, and uncontrolled information repositories as cost drivers while data maps, and defensible deletion and selective content migration are cited as cost reducers. You can download a PowerPoint slide (with notes) of the ten factors with cost driver and cost reducer examples from Mr. Blair’s blog.
When trying to calculate the cost of unstructured information, he advocates the use of Full Cost Accounting to “create a complete picture of costs that includes past, future, direct, and indirect costs – rather than direct cash outlays alone”. That calculation would consider costs such as:
Mr. Blair also espouses a three step path to information value: clean (i.e. defensible deletion of information that is duplicated, valueless, etc.), build and maintain (i.e. an Information Governance program), and monetize (i.e. find ways to extract value from unstructured information).
He concludes by discussing the need to challenge the culture in organizations by improving how employees use and manage unstructured information, and suggests two models to help organizations meet that challenge.
The first model is the ‘Information Calorie’ which he describes as follows: “thinking about information as calories at your organization can improve awareness of its costs, and drive change. The goal is not to add friction to desirable behaviors like collaboration and mobile work, but rather to make it more difficulty to create and consume empty information calories”. One of Mr. Barclay’s information calorie tips is to use anecdotes, case studies and facts to educate executives and employees about the cost of information mismanagement.
The second model is ‘Information Cap and Trade’, i.e. designing a “system that controls the amount of information pollution and rewards innovation and management discipline”. Some of his tips for creating that system are to set information volume targets or quotas and allocate them appropriately (the cap) and develop creative ways to use the credits such as headcount increases (the trade).
Although relatively brief (under 20 pages), this white paper challenges information professionals to change how their organizations view unstructured information, calculate the cost of that information, and figure out how to both reduce those costs and drive value. Are you ready to embrace that challenge?
Sheila Taylor has been appointed to ARMA International’s Content Editorial Board (CEB). The CEB is responsible for aiding ARMA International in unifying and streamlining content development processes across all formats. The primary role of the task force is both strategic and tactical.
Task force members are to be conversant with ARMA International’s strategic plan and use it as guidance for developing and evolving the strategic plan for developing content for all formats (i.e., books, standards/technical reports/guidelines, Information Management magazine, conference education, online education). They are responsible for scanning the environment continually to identify records management and information governance trends and, specifically, the knowledge, skills, and best practices that information professionals and the business community need to address those trends.
Tactically, CEB members:
* Discuss trends identified from environmental scanning, identify topics around which content needs to be developed, and help develop the scope for that content
* Identify areas of focus for the program year and flesh out editorial calendars for such things as web seminars, online courses, certificate programs, and live education (including conference education)
* Review magazine/standards/book proposals and draft articles/manuscripts against criteria
Established in 1955, ARMA International is a not-for-profit professional association and the authority on governing information as a strategic asset. Its approximately more than 10,000 members include information managers, information governance professionals, archivists, corporate librarians, imaging specialists, legal professionals, IT managers, consultants, and educators, all of whom work in a wide variety of industries, including government, legal, healthcare, financial services, and petroleum in the United States, Canada, and more than 30 other countries around the globe.
Effective July 1, 2013 Sheila Taylor will begin a 1 year term on the Board of Directors of the Toronto Chapter of ARMA International. As Director of Program, she will be responsible for the Chapter’s education events.
Sheila is pleased to return to the Board, having previously held the positions of Director of Education (2001-2003), Director of Marketing (1999-2000) and Director of Program (2003-2004).
Is E-Mail obsolete?
This question seems to be everywhere these days. Marc Zukerberg (CEO of Facebook) made this prediction in 2011, possibly based on his assumption that Facebook will ultimately replace everything. However, some trends do appear to support the idea, such as studies from tech analyst firm ComScore which found that email use by teenagers had dropped by almost 60% between 2010 and 2011. What if, the argument goes, teens today arrive in tomorrow’s workforce with radically different communication skills and preferences which don’t include e-mail?
Instead, communication may one day be based on lighter, more collaborative platforms such as wikis or other social media tools. Zuckerberg has said that e-mail is too cumbersome and “heavy”, and strategists like Don Tapscott have suggested that e-mail will eventually become a bad memory as we get used to creating, editing and collaborating on projects in wikis, alerting colleagues to new developments via microblogs and instant messages, and begin moving away from a storage and access model for information management to one of content collaboration.
Although studies from analysts like Pew or MarketTools seem to show little movement towards abandoning email, there have recently been some early converts who have already gone in this direction. Over the last couple of years, large companies such as Atos (a large French IT services firm), LAC Group (an LA-based professional services company), PR firm Weber Shandwick, and others have abolished emails in favour of enterprise social networking platforms. According to Toronto Life (April 2013 issue), executives at Intel, Deloitte and Veritas have implemented the same idea. In a Globe & Mail article last month, the CEO of Klick Health drew the analogy to Henry Ford, who once said “if I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”. So is email just a “faster horse” than a paper memo, and will social and collaborative tools be the Model T that truly changes the paradigm?
What if e-mail at your organization disappeared tomorrow? Does your organization currently use wikis, enterprise social networking tools or even public social media sites like LinkedIn or Twitter to conduct company business? Some of the information generated, stored and deleted on these systems are records. Even if most of this information doesn’t need to be managed for operational reasons, it may still have regulatory, evidentiary or archival value. Because of the nature of collaborative platforms, this information can’t really be managed the same way as other storage media, which means there may be some important implications and challenges for information managers. Even though it doesn’t seem today like e-mail is going anywhere, technological shifts can happen very quickly and we may find ourselves in a very different situation in just a few years. Are you ready?
In the just released report – Deleting Accountability: Record Management Practices of Political Staff – A Special Investigation Report – Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner (Ann Cavoukian) says high-ranking staff in Dalton McGuinty’s liberal government illegally deleted documents tied to the $585M gas plant scandal.
The Commissioner’s investigation was prompted by NDP complaints that key liberal political staff don’t have any records (particularly e-mails) about the closure of gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville before the 2011 election. Those closures were widely seen as an attempt to save area Liberal candidates from election defeat.
The Commissioner found that David Livingston who ran the Premier’s office under Dalton McGuinty and Craig MacLennan who worked for two energy ministers in the McGuinty government deleted all of their e-mails pertaining to the plant closures. And before stepping down earlier this year, Mr. Livingston reportedly asked the head of the province’s civil service “how to wipe clean the hard drives in the Premier’s office” and ensure the permanent deletion of electronic records.
The Archives and Recordkeeping Act, 2006 (ARA) – which the McGuinty government enacted – requires the offices of the premier and ministers to save documents and archive them. However, the Commissioner found no procedures to make sure the then-ministers (and their staff) or the premier’s office staff did that. While there’s no penalty for these offences (ARA doesn’t provide them), there’s speculation that the deletion of these records could set the stage for contempt of parliament proceedings against the individuals who were involved.
As stated in a press release, the Commissioner’s report makes three recommendations to ensure the retention of records that may be subject to an access request under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) or the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA):
It was my privilege to co-chair this forum on Records Retention & Electronic Information Management from May 28-29, 2013 with Susan Nickle of Wortzman Nickle Professional Corporation.
The Canadian Institute assembled an excellent group of industry experts to explore records retention and diverse electronic information management topics such as cloud computing, outsourcing data storage and processing, auto-classification, social media and the BYOD (bring your own device) movement. Here are some of my observations from the sessions: