I posted a blog a few weeks ago to wrap up Sherpa Software’s experience at the Managing Electronic Records Conference (MER) 2014 called Murmurs of MER.  In that post, I promised to expand on several concepts that caught my attention during this enlightening event that focused a great deal of time and attention on the topic of information governance (IG).

The session I found most interesting and insightful was 20/20 Vision on Information Governance in 2020 (no pun intended).  This was a panel discussion hosted by Barclay Blair of the Information Governance Initiative.  The panel included a consultant, a corporate lawyer, a RIM professional, and an organizer of the Sedona Conference – a very well-rounded and, at times, outspoken group of individuals all playing different but very important roles within the world of information governance.  Who better to ask what this discipline will look like in the year 2020?  Their expertise and experience in helping to shape, dare I say, define information governance, surely would provide them with 20/20 vision on the future of IG and its key components.  This is what surprised me the most.

This expert panel was asked prior to the session to complete a survey focusing on nine key questions about the future of IG.  A few of these questions included:

  • Can you define information governance?
  • Who will own IG in 2020: lawyers, IT, compliance or other?
  • Will IG exist as a separate concept or discipline in 2020?
  • Will we be better or worse at managing information by 2020?

It isn’t the answers that surprised or intrigued me most,  but rather the lack of consistency or consensus in the group that really peaked my curiosity.  How could six experts in the field have such varying opinions on the state and direction of IG moving forward?

I entered the session familiar with the recent buzz around information governance and I suspected this was a well-defined and aligned initiative rather than a program in its infancy.  The fact that Sherpa Software is a solution provider only exaggerated my ignorance because we have been submerged in the lexicon of IG, its benefits and its relevance in the market; however, it is not the relevance that is in question;  the buzz is real and exists for a reason. The early adopters of Sherpa have helped us forge a solution in Sherpa Altitude IGTM. These are companies who, for one reason or another, are ahead of the curve in recognizing, organizing and being able to implement a solution that for many organizations has remained elusive.

Let’s get back to our experts:  I don’t think all six agreed on any of the nine questions posed to them in the survey, but that doesn’t mean any were wrong.  Maybe by 2020, some opinions will prove to be overzealous – but for now, they are all well within bounds.  Rather than explain who said what, check out the session yourself.  They are available via the MER website.

The panel wasn’t in complete opposition during the session, though. They discussed several areas for companies who still find themselves struggling to decide how to initiate or expand their information governance program. The panel seemed to agree that whatever you call IG, or whoever owns it, that in some form it will continue to grow in importance.  Given all of the questions still remaining, the answer – as to how and where to begin – starts with developing an IG council.  Because IG is strategic and not tactical, drive the implementation by incorporating RIM, IT, legal, compliance and business units in a collaborative process to discuss your IG program.  Include senior management in the communication loop to build support, and then communicate often with both them and other constituents to socialize the principles you develop.  What do the various business groups need from one another?  This communication is key. Do legal companies close the loop after questioning RIM and vice versa?  This communication and collaboration should be a key element of any IG strategy, and illustrates why this is a partnership.  To be successful, you will need to adopt a holistic approach.

Whatever you call IG, whoever owns IG, however you define IG… just be sure to move forward with a plan.  For an in-depth look at how you can make this happen, check out Sherpa’s CIGP series, parts one and two, by Rick Wilson, an AIIM-certified Information Governance Practitioner and also an ARMA-certified Information Governance Professional, as well as Sherpa Software’s VP of strategy and solutions.  This four-part series (part III available soon) outlines an unbiased approach to developing a Corporate Information Governance Program (CIGP.)  Don’t forget to check out the videos from MER 2014.  Together, these resources should provide you with 20/20 vision on your information governance strategy.