Taking charge of information

In July 2006, a records warehouse run by business continuity provider Iron Mountain in East London burnt to the ground. Thousands of documents belonging to companies, including some major law firms, were completely destroyed.

According to Doug Miles, UK managing director of AIIM Europe, the information management advisory body, the most telling feature of the episode was that – as he puts it – “nobody really cared”.

“Records management is seen as something you have to do, but that doesn’t create value,” he explains.

Likewise, enterprise content management is often seen as a burden and, as such, slips between divisional responsibilities. According to AIIM research, for example, nobody is in charge of archiving emails at 36% of organisations.

“Sometimes, you hear of an old-fashioned businessman who prints off his emails and puts them in a filing cabinet,” says Miles. “Most people would laugh at this, but he would be one of the few people keeping a secure record of emails.”

Miles advocates a central content management repository – with a clear allocation of the responsibility to manage it – and the IT leaders present at the Effective IT 2008 Summit were in accordance. A survey conducted at the summit found that half of those present were planning to unite their different strands of content management technology over the next three years.

He cautions that, while the power and ease-of-use of enterprise search tools are gaining in popularity, they are not a satisfactory replacement for organised content management, as they do not provide any help managing the lifecycle of the document.

The business case for doing this may not become obvious until it is too late, such as when a document needed for a legal case has disappeared – up in smoke

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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