After attending the latest ARMA International Annual Conference & Expo in Chicago, it was clear that there are several trends taking shape that are impacting the records management arena. While these trends vary by industry, all verticals appear to be approaching records management with open arms for its ability to ensure compliance, organize and streamline information, boost efficiency, and drive profitability.

One thing that stood out for me was that there were numerous representatives that attended from the energy sector. These were not utility providers, but companies harnessing resources such as natural gas and shale. They included several support and distribution organizations that are trying to play catch-up with records management operations as their country turns to alternative energy sources. These organizations expressed concern about not only managing their data, but doing so in compliance with governing standards.

Another sector that was well represented was the legal field. A lot of law firms and legal professionals, probably more than ever, were in the audience. The economy has affected how they operate, and has shifted their perspective on records management. In fact, some law firms closed because they could not manage information well. For those that remain, upholding a strong records management system is their source of life because it maintains their competitive edge in the industry. For these professionals and their offices, there is an opportunity to better optimize not only data, but business best practices. As more regulations govern information, they want to take advantage of it; not to mention that organizing internally will save money and boost profitability. This requires both the right policies and technology to implement a sound records management platform that can serve their businesses for years to come. I think they were very interested in where records management as a whole was going to help them enhance their operations. John W. Bagby, a professor of information sciences and technology and co-director of the Institute for Information Policy at Pennsylvania State University, delivered the keynote address. The topic was Tales From the Litigation War Room: High Stakes in Information Governance,” so it was a good fit for all the legal eagles who attended.

Your records…to the cloud

While financial services organizations and institutions generally possess strong records management and information technology infrastructures, they want better ways to store and access data. As such, many are looking to relocate all or part of their internal data to the cloud. This requires them to sort through it, evaluate records management policies and optimize what can be sent to the drive in the sky. Space is unlimited, but they’ll still pay for it as they did with bulky servers…they just won’t have servers clogging up office space.

Records retention and security top concerns in the medical, pharmaceutical world

In the life sciences field, I noticed more conference participants were asking about records retention. More companies have a records management plan in place, but are concerned about information remaining private, secure and classified. And that’s not just their customer or client data. They find it very challenging to ensure in-house information is properly secured. Without the appropriate policies and technology solutions in place to do so, it can have a negative effect on their sales pipeline. Another concern is that details on best practices and knowledge can be lost forever when a vital member of the team leaves the organization, so having measures in place to retain—not just store, edit and access—information is key for these companies.

Having a records management system in place that includes retention can better position the company to optimize expenses, bolster productivity and hang-on to its individual value proposition.

Educators and government entities seek records management solutions

Professionals from the education field that were in attendance seemed focused on making the most of information security via records management solutions. They want to ensure that student data, which contains details such as social security numbers, financial information and health-related data, is protected properly.

Government agencies were interested in how records management tools can help them better budget their expenses and income. They want to know how to harness the power of technology to solve real-world problems, all while protecting the vast amounts of data generated each day. This has become particularly important as the country recovers from economic issues. The public demands transparency more than ever, so deploying a solid records management system achieves that as well.

Overall, the conference provided an interesting perspective on the importance of records management solutions across all industries. Companies today know they have to manage their data—now they are looking at new ways to do so with fresh technologies and sound policies to govern how they manage data.

What trends have you noticed with regards to your records management system?

A Field Guide to Enterprise Records Management