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Next Gen IM Pro: It’s Time To Get Out Of The Basement and Into The Field

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I recently laughed my way through Melissa McCarthy’s movie, “Spy.” As the show begins, Melissa’s character is tucked away in a vermin-ridden basement…

I recently laughed my way through Melissa McCarthy’s movie, “Spy.” As the show begins, Melissa’s character is tucked away in a vermin-ridden basement controlling with her wits, training and use of technology how her Bond-like counterpart conducts a critical mission. There is no doubt that she is the brains behind the operation, yet she is completely under-valued and her talents under-estimated by everyone, including senior leadership. Sound familiar?

Iron Mountain research, conducted by Coleman Parkes found that 70% of business leaders don’t fully understand what their records and information managers do. In return, 58% of records and information managers admit they don’t know exactly what senior business leaders want and need from them. And 75% are confused about the information needs of colleagues in marketing, manufacturing, finance, and other functions.

The good news is that the study also found that 81% of records and information managers have confidence in their ability to help business units, and the overall enterprise, not only minimize risk and cost, but also to maximize the value of their information. This suggests that the gap in perceptions is created by a lack of understanding and poor communication rather than an inability to deliver. Business leaders need to better understand what records and information managers can contribute while at the same time information professionals need to align more closely with business needs.

So what needs to change?

In Melissa’s case, her heroine breaks out of her shell (both self-imposed and imposed on her) and inserts herself into the mix – going out into the field to foil a terrorist plot using all of the skills she’s learned over the years.

In the case of a Records and Information Management (RIM) professional this will require taking similar action. You’ll need to insert – or force – your way into conversations about big data and analytics, wherever they take place – and how we need to balance risk-related requirements with the broader usage of data for competitive advantage. You need a point of view about why or why not we should keep all information as well as how to remove as many information management tasks from our employees by leveraging business unit workflows and technology. And you’ll have to take a primary role in forming your organization’s information management strategy. There are more areas where you are needed, but these activities require urgent attention in order to foil our own version of a potentially harmful outcome for our respective organizations.

There is no doubt that data analytics has the attention of business leaders – in public and private entities and across all industries. In fact, recent research on information value from PriceWaterhouseCoopers shows that the US Healthcare sector leads all other industries in leveraging the value of information you create and receive, with Finance and Energy close behind. That said, at the recent Chief Information Governance Officer Summit held by the Information Governance Initiative, Privacy, IT, RIM, Data Science, and Compliance leaders all agreed that the role and function of a corporate or global RIM team could be overrun by a data analysis/governance counterpart.

The study I cited earlier shows just one in five (21 percent) business leaders have complete confidence in their organization’s ability to extract the full value from its information. These trends and their impact are echoed elsewhere, with one global study (Virtuous Circle of Data, EIU published in February 2015) finding that just 27% of organizations say their employees have access to the data they need, and 42% admit that access to their data is cumbersome.

As I have learned from discussions with data analysts and data scientists, they need domain expertise to be most effective. And they need to know what systems and applications hold which data, its age and authenticity, access controls, privacy requirements, cross-border considerations, and more.

In true “Spy” mode, I urge you to get involved in the conversation – and actions being taken – about analytics. Your expertise as a RIM professional puts you at the heart of conversations that are happening now. And once your voice is heard, you’ll have more credibility grappling with the other issues I’ve mentioned in this blog. Don’t be satisfied with instructing someone else what to do as you sit in a space removed from the action. Dare to get out in the field and show your organization just how valuable you are!

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