ARMA.2016.defensible.disposition.jpgI look forward to the ARMA International LIVE! Conference & Expo every year so that I can refocus and align my information governance strategies and approaches in a way that best meets my clients’ needs.

ARMA 2016, which recently drew an estimated 2,000 information governance decision-makers from around the world to San Antonio, certainly delivered excitement and validation of key points I’ve made over the past year in my blog posts and industry articles so let’s jump right into the five key takeaways I took from the conference this year.   

Information Governance Rules

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a change a foot in the records and information management space

Records managers who have for many years focused mainly on developing and implementing record retention policies and schedules, managing physical records archiving processes and determining how to address legal hold application, are now being asked to take on a more holistic approach to the management and governance of all information generated and managed by the enterprise, whether structured or unstructured data, documents, records or other information.

It's important to note that this transition started several years ago as the conversion of paper record creation processes to born-digital processes began and is now at the forefront of digital transformation activities. How do I know; what is the data?  For the first time at the conference this year I noticed that the titles and roles of attendees finally includes Information Governance. This title change is substantially more than the addition of two long words in a title on a business card. It signals the coming of what we practitioners have been awaiting – an opportunity, actually an accountability, for developing and advising on end-to-end information management. That is right, governance of information creation, use, management, integration, storage and disposition across the enterprise. Information governance has arrived!


AIIM defines eDiscovery as “the process of discovery in civil litigation that is carried out in electronic formats. It encompasses what most often is referred to as electronically stored information, or ESI.” ARMA is a conference for information governance professionals and records managers. eDiscovery and disseminating legal holds is generally a Legal responsibility though records managers get involved to apply holds and prevent destruction of records for which they are the custodians

As part of this curation responsibility, records managers are involved in the identification, preservation and collection of records, eDiscovery.

With the records manager’s taking on increasing responsibility for governing electronic records and data, it is not surprising that this was a key component of ARMA this year. In addition, eDiscovery tools, at least in the US, are often the same ones used to identify, assess, analyze and classify orphaned and unclassified records and data across IT platforms and physical records metadata. Put simply – it just makes sense that eDiscovery continues to be at the forefront of ARMA of each year.

Cloud & Office 365

Information governance professionals and records managers alike know that the cloud is important for collaboration across business areas and for delivering on IT infrastructure savings and so it came as no surprise that this topic was a key discussion topic at the event this year. The surprise to me was the knowledge gap that still exists for many people and practitioners at the show; there is a connection between vendors, their products and the cloud, e.g. Microsoft Office 365 (o365), Dropbox, Veeva and more, but there is not a clear understanding of what is public, private, on premise, hybrid or other and what IG and RM’s should be doing to support their organizations in assessing providers and solutions.  Rather “the cloud” is seen as a risky approach to gaining cost efficiencies in IT spends that will come at a huge IG or records management cost in the future.

Paper. Paper. Paper!

It is the year 2016 and yes, we are not in a paperless world. In fact in certain situations or use cases we have increased the amount of paper records. Physical records are still very much a hot topic at ARMA, not because it is particularly exciting, glamorous or cutting edge, but because it is still there, it still requires controls and is still often waiting for a defensible deletion policy to be put in place in order for organizations to begin to meet retention requirements. Records storage vendors were very active on the expo floor and very willing to share new approaches and technology to demonstrate metrics and ways to streamline classification projects through risk-based approaches.

See Also: Get In The Game: 5 Steps To Defensible Destruction

Defensible Disposition

Paper records classification challenges are an excellent transition or segue into the 5th key takeaway from the conference this year, namely defensible disposition. My Paragon Solutions information governance and information management colleagues and I have been blogging on this topic all year as it applies both to physical and electronic records and is a true indicator in my opinion for whether an organization’s records management maturity is above baseline. 

Specifically, defensible disposition is the use of a consistent, policy and procedure-driven and documented process to identify, assess (usually against legal or other holds), gain business approval for, and then actually carry out a disposition action, whether preservation and migration to an archive, or deletion/ destruction in a manner whereby the information cannot be forensically reconstituted into a full or partial record. 

Trending Now: 4 Defensible Disposition Actions File Analysis Delivers

ARMA.2016.Trends.jpgRemember the ARMA, er Alamo

San Antonio was a wonderful city to host ARMA’s International Conference this year and I look forward to additional blogs on several of these key topics I took away, as well as sessions I attended. Just as ARMA brings together the legacy or historical physical records and challenges alongside the new modern challenges of the Internet of Things (IoT) and impact of self-driving cars, San Antonio brought together past and present as well - there is a modern expo center, world class dining on the riverfront, fantastic architecture and a generous dose of history which is appealing not only to the many librarians that attend the conference each year, but also to the many of us that value the diversity that is this great country.

So when you think of ARMA 2016, remember the Alamo.