07 November 2011

SharePoint, Facebook Hot Topics at ARMA

Collaboration software and social media led several maturing topics at ARMA International’s annual conference and expo near Washington D.C., October 16-19.

Born in records management, ARMA showed an accelerating metamorphosis into Information Governance, as the definition of “record” expanded again. The transformation, first observed a year ago, reflects court decisions requiring management of information – not just official records -- in all formats and media.

That includes Web content, notably Blogs, Wikis, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter. While the parameters are still forming – “On Facebook, does clicking ‘Like’ create a record?” – thought leaders and analysts firmly agreed Web social media cannot be ignored.

Microsoft SharePoint’s shadow loomed large as well. Despite SP2010’s expanded records management capabilities, prospective users now understand that only significant integration services make it effective. “Highly configurable means there’s a ton of customization to do,” cracked one user. This creates a market for Microsoft partners, notably Open Text and GimmalSoft, who showed working solutions forged out of the raw product.

Conference session reflected growing sophistication compared to past years. Rookies seeking introductions to Records Management topics found relatively few offerings. In contrast, more specialized foci, such as eDiscovery and cloud-based services, took center stage.

A groundswell of interest in longterm preservation of digital information surfaced. Consultants Charles Dollar and Lori Ashley offered a roundtable discussion on the subject planned for 15-20 participants. When approximately 45 people tried to squeeze in, the session moved to a larger and quieter venue. A subsequent presentation by Dollar and Bill Neale drew additional interest. The crowd expressed general frustration at the lack of solutions to effectively preserve persistent records.

ARMA International continues to grow its Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles (GARP®) brand by announcing a tool for assessing the maturity of an Information Governance program. The answers to its 100 questions generate a report comparing the responding organization with the GARP maturity model, identifying any of eight areas needing improvement. The assessment will be released in early 2012 in departmental and enterprise packages.

“ARMA appears to be moving to formalizing RIM as a discipline (GARP, the GARP Maturity Model, etc.),” commented Fred Grevin, a leading records manager from the New York City chapter.

The strong attendance of nearly 3300 and robust offerings – as many as 10 sessions ran concurrently – show a growing recognition of the value of Information Governance in both the public and private sectors. A rise in vendor reservations for the 2012 expo suggest this trend will continue.