Information Governance Is Key to Big Data’s Value

The gap that exists between business leaders and records and information managers (RIMs) was highlighted by the “Records Management Study,” a survey conducted by Coleman Parkes Research for Iron Mountain. The survey, conducted online for the first two months of 2015, spanned 900 businesses in the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe.

The records and information management role, which used to focus on organizing paper records, is now more concerned with managing digital records—records that have far more data than it’s possible to capture on paper. Consequently, RIMs have had to evolve and apply new skills to effectively manage vast quantities of digital data.

In addition, new challenges continue to appear as the data grows. That is reflected in the survey in which 48 percent of North American information managers said they perceive that their role and responsibilities have changed significantly over the last five years.

Insight and Analysis Are the Top Priorities

Information is only of value when it can be applied. That’s something on which business decision-makers and RIMs can agree, according to the survey. The ability to add value, insight and analysis to the information they manage, beyond simple reporting, is ranked as the most important skill for RIMs. That’s the view expressed by about 37 percent of U.S. business decision-makers and 25 percent of RIMs.

Everyone appears to agree that the main concern of managing information is extracting value from it, but there’s a major disconnect in the view of their achievement in that area. The overwhelming majority of RIMs (around 80%) believe they are successful in the role of extracting value. In sharp contrast, only 20 percent of business leaders in the United States and just 10 percent in Europe expressed complete confidence in their organization’s ability to extract value from information.

Though RIMs expressed confidence in meeting the demands of business leaders, they also acknowledged that they weren’t completely sure what is expected of them. That lack of clarity increases for business function requests that extend into areas such as marketing, manufacturing and finance.

Only about 20 percent of RIMs said they are clear on what they are expected to deliver to those divisions of the business. That lack of understanding cuts both ways, as only a minority of business leaders (about 30 percent in the U.S. and 20 percent in Europe) claimed to have “complete understanding” of the RIM’s function.

Disconnect Between RIMs and Business Leaders

Sue Trombley, managing director of thought leadership at Iron, offered some perspective on the causes of this clarity gap. As business information functions tend to get cut off from each other by silos, people in different divisions have a limited view, she pointed out. They often don’t really understand what the other divisions are after—and that includes the department charged with handling the information for the entire business: the records and information management group.

Going forward, Trombley asserts, businesses will have to adopt a new paradigm that enables each department to have direct access to the information it requires in order to extract value to meet its goals.   

Information won’t just be dumped on the RIMs. Instead, it will be assigned to the business groups that want to extract value from it. Both sides will need to work together at “developing the skills demanded to navigate a shifting information landscape,” she adds.

The good news, according to Trombley, is that many businesses—particularly those aware of regulations and potential liabilities associated with data collections—are starting to move in that direction. And, she says, that new model of information management is achievable through information governance.