The businesses of today face remarkably different challenges than those of 10 years ago. Records management has quickly risen to the forefront of enterprise concerns as they address the task of organizing the vast swaths of data a business accumulates every single day. The days of hallway-length filing cabinets filled with manila envelopes is coming to an end. These are the days of terabytes of archived emails, audio logs, incident reports and more.

But the convenience of technology does not fully alleviate the problems associated with handling that amount of data. As more and more information is taken on and records expand, the time and effort of management becomes not only a liability, but a costly one as well. Poor records management can lead to critical data being lost, or otherwise impossible to find in the clutter of several years’ worth of emails and correspondence. Embracing effective records management practices is the great challenge facing businesses as they transition into this new age of information governance.

In a recent AIIM study, 64% of companies polled said they did not have an enforced company standard for data retention, and 50% said that their paper policies did not align with their electronic policies. A majority of companies claimed they wanted to transition to a new records management system, but had unclear plans on how to do so, at best. If businesses hope to meet the challenges of records management in the coming years, something needs to change, and fast.

While it might seem like an easy decision to adopt the latest and greatest  advances in records management technology, this route is not without its own challenges. Records management tools can be difficult and counterintuitive to use, or otherwise require specialist knowledge, which can discourage those whose jobs require that they interact with it, but not necessarily master it. Ease of use and functionality are key aspects that need to be considered when adopting a new technology into the office.

Rapidly evolving compliance standards also place a heavy strain on management as older systems struggle to accommodate the increased load. Going back to the sheer amount of data that needs to be managed, the difficulty increases dramatically when new avenues of communication are added. Organizations begin to need records on things they couldn’t have imagined before. Any kind of social media posts, tens of thousands of snippets, conversations, errant blog posts, even tweets all need to be organized and accessible at a moment’s notice.

After all this, records management might seem like an all-encompassing, convoluted task, all but impossible to address in any meaningful way. There is no single solution to all the challenges involved in responsible records management. According to another study by the AIIM, over 50% of all organizations surveyed said that they had yet to even implement the kinds of systems they felt an organization of their size should have. This paints a bleak picture of the current state of records management as disorganized and unmonitored, the exact opposite of how it should be.

The business world has changed, and it will only continue to change at an ever greater pace. While it may seem daunting, it is possible to match the pace of change through a solid, long-term plan to renovate modern records management systems. This is a critical moment not only to overturning the old, inefficient systems in favor of the new, but also in laying the groundwork for the next generation of advances. We can’t predict where records management will go in the next few years, where cloud storage might go as physical media is discarded entirely; all we can do is hope to create a framework that will meet the records management needs of our business today, while preparing us for the inevitable change in the future.