Information Governance: Past, Present & Future
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Information Governance: Past, Present & Future

By Alexander Campbell, Manager Records, Cohen & Gresser LLP

Alexander Campbell, Manager Records, Cohen & Gresser LLP

Recently I found myself walking to Central Park in the Upper East Side neighborhood where I reside in NYC and I happened upon a group of construction workers taking a    break. One man in particular was speaking in very animated tones causing my ears to perk up a bit. Without any hesitation and in a perfectly deadpanned Brooklyn accent, this man exclaimed “How can I soar with the eagles when I am surrounded by a bunch of turkeys?” I chuckled, but then thought that I’d rather be a turkey than an eagle. Turkeys travel in groups and understand the importance of teamwork. The same holds true for Information Governance. We are all knowledge workers working together and with other key personnel to further the various missions of our respective organizations. This mission, in every case, should be the furtherance of a data driven culture. So let’s have a look at how  we got here, where we are now, and where things are headed.

•Past. The concept of managing data from inception through its full lifecycle and ultimate disposition is not a new one and has its roots in the healthcare industry. In 2003,  England’s National Health Service (NHS) grappled with an explosion of data and found that they needed a comprehensive healthcare electronic records management platform  to address all phases of the information lifecycle. From this very real business problem, Information Governance was born and several professional associations leapt at the chance to craft best practices to support the discipline. Today, the healthcare industry is still leading the charge toward better information management.

•Present. The Information Governance Initiative (IGI), a leader in competitive intelligence around Information Governance, identifies no less than 18 facets that pertain to the discipline. To determine these facets, the IGI put out an informal survey to its member community and found that 97 percent of respondents felt that Records Management is a key component of information governance, while just 51 percent believe Finance to be a component of IG. So what does this all mean? Simply put, in order for Information  Governance to remain healthy and viable as a discipline, the humans that support it must focus on 1-2 IG facets. In my case, Records Management and Data Storage/Archiving are what I would consider deep specialties, while Big Data and IT Management fall in the category of secondary interests.

•Future. Despite the present struggle to define itself and avoid the “generalist” tag, the future for Information Governance is resoundingly bright. Market capitalization estimates  vary widely but every projection points to significant growth between now and the year 2020. In a survey conducted by the Information Governance Initiative, 62 percent of respondents predict global spending of $20 billion or more on IG products and services. Leigh Isaacs, Director of Records & Information Governance at White & Case recently  noted, “I can only see IG gaining more traction within organizations over the next six years. Data growth will continue, and from my perspective the need for IG cannot be ignored.”

Gartner predicts that by 2018, 50 percent of organizations will give up on managing data growth and will redirect funds to improve classification and analytics. This blew me  away. Think about, a decade ago IT Departments spent the majority of their funds and focus on data storage. How far we have come.

Like my friend the construction worker, you could soar like a solitary eagle, or you can engage in reaching out to others to gain a better understanding of unfamiliar facets of IG, while also sharing your expertise. You must identify 2-3 areas of specialization and stick to them. An extra bonus would be to become conversant in 1-3 other facets of IG (remember there are eighteen) outside of your area of specialization. Can you hold a conversation with someone about the privacy implications of Google searches in Europe? How about the decision to move sensitive data to the cloud and how best to secure it? Next, is critical to identify 2-3 direct impact Information Governance projects. Keep in mind  that executive leadership wants to know how IG will have a positive effect on the bottom line. I can think of two projects that never fail to bore the heck out of whoever is  willing to listen but are bulletproof from a value proposition standpoint: scanning and implementation of established retention policies. After you have established this, you can  move on to more nuanced projects like mining your unstructured data for information that can provide a competitive advantage. Whatever the case, it is a good time indeed to be  oing what we do.

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