23 June 2009

Innovation (1)

If the roots of Records & Information Management are at least 2300 years old, why is Innovation a top RIM priority in 2009? Beyond the truism, “Stagnation is death,” the answer identifies key, even vital, roles for records managers and their programs.

Certainly, innovation is a hot topic. It is the cover story of the June 15th BusinessWeek and the focus of a fast-selling book, The Innovation Zone, by Delphi Group oracle Tom Koulopoulos. In RIM, innovation takes two forms, and each is so important that it deserves its own posting.

First, external changes -- in technology, law, and business -- compel RIM to innovate. Yes, the discipline is ancient, but today’s savvy practitioners understand the imperative to create new strategies and tactics. If the stereotype of the librarian-in-the-basement were ever true, today it is as outmoded as carbon paper. The same forces that transformed the mousy subterranean records clerk into the superhero Chief Records Officer demand powerful innovation in RIM today.

The axioms haven’t changed, but the derived formulae are breathtakingly new.

Technologies and their applications evolve daily. Last week I wrote about how Web 2.0 is changing democracy. This week the news reveals how Twitter enabled the Iranian version of Virtual Mob to invalidate a fixed election and question the stability of the government. (While the Obama administration has been officially “hands off”, it did ask Twitter to delay a planned maintenance outage so Iranians could continue to organize their protests in cyberspace.)

Within the framework of classical RIM, today’s leaders address technology-related issues that were only imaginative a few years ago. How does one manage the records of:
 Mobile computing
 Cloud computing
 Web content
 Metadata
 Federated repositories
 Random Access Memory
 Ephemeral formats and media forms

Similarly, the evolution of case law challenges RIM practitioners to react quickly to a shifting environment. Like records leaders, judges grope and grasp to understand technology and its implications, and their opinions do not always reflect the world as we see it. Nonetheless, their interpretations stand (until reversed), and records officers sometimes need contortionist flexibility to innovate practices that conform to the law.

This hammers us when judges differ on storage/retention requirements, admissibility, production, and the scope of data maps. Add the spate of new laws and regulations effulging from government executives and legislators, and only innovative approaches will enable RIM success.

The final external demand for RIM innovation comes from economics, the business climate. Records officers who want to be taken seriously by organizational leaders in finance, technology, law, operations and other areas must consider the business implications of their programs. A decade ago, records management was simply a cost of doing business. Today it may not be a profit center, but it needs to contribute to a business’ profitability. RIM should reduce risk and improve business processes, customer response, security, and more.

How do we address these changes in technology, law, and business? The answer is innovation. We need great minds and perceptive analysts to develop strategies and tactics to manage these evolutions. The need for innovation applies to entire RIM programs, from the Chief Records Officer to the mail clerk: Innovation knows no status. Like Web 2.0, everyone can contribute, and the best programs are those than encourage, enable, enact and reward innovation.

Check back soon for the next posting on the needs for innovation within RIM programs.

-- Gordy Hoke

1 comment:

  1. Innovation is very important in any field as it create new idea.Technology changes day by day.RIM needs to be more innovative.So this post tells you the details regarding the innovations in RIM.Very well written post.