Here is the next revolution in records and records management?

The way organisations view records and records management is set to change. Records management has always been about compliance.  Businesses and governments have to comply with the law.  There are penalties if a business or person does not keep the records that are required.  For example, the Pharmaceutical Industry is highly regulated so compliance is a key driver.  The external compliance is mirrored by an internal compliance.  Internal compliance can be seen in audit, counter-fraud work and management requirements.   In government, the same compliance issues emerge for the same reasons. An additional compliance requirement that is well known is the need to respond to Freedom of Information requests.

What is happening is that records management is about to move beyond compliance.  The dream of information management and knowledge management is to unleash or extract the value or a tangible financial return.  To do this, there has to be a way to value the information and records.  The change is about finding a way to “value” their records so that they can be treated like an asset and managed appropriately.  How they will do this will be a combination of gamification and commodification based upon an algorithmic system for setting the value for a record.

Replacement value

We can see this emerging in some areas.  The next stage is to bring these strands together.  To commodify something means to assign a value to it. There are some ways to assign a value.  There can be a statutory or replacement value. We could have £100 for permanent record relating a standard process.  There can be a value to the organisation £500 for any financial record (or its cost to replace) and £1000 base value for trade secrets (the cost to secure).   The amounts are arbitrary to illustrate the point. The value, of replacement or security could be calculated against where the record is in its life cycle.


Another way to value records would be by their use or how they are used in terms of a gamification.  We can see this as a developing area.  The decision-making market idea makes ideas and proposals a commodity to be traded and supported on the market.  The services such as Idea Street or Idea Scale offer this service.  In this system, users, and records managers can place a value on the records based on its use or its utility to users.

Intrinsic Worth

What could link to the market approach to records would be a look at the intrinsic worth of the document. We could value records by how we see their value.  The user is asked to put a value on it based on their knowledge and experience of it aside from how it is being used.  The EU has a recent study that was looking at putting a “value” on privacy.

The research project was looking at ways to monetarise privacy based upon the value that people put on their privacy.  How users value something in the abstract or how they perceive its use can be another measure.

Algorithmic valuation models

Another approach could be to set the value based on content and context.  We already have on offer, from companies like Autonomy, algorithm based tools that allow us to find text and categorise it by its context. What is next is something that uses algorithm-based software that can analyse the text and context and then assign a value to it.  The analysis would be done again pre-set or variable criteria.  The criteria could be the value set by the organisation as well as a market context set by various scores drawn from external sources.   We can see this to some extent in various systems that data mine or scan content from websites to track stories or find information.  The algorithms such as this can be seen as using the semantic web and the deep we search systems, but for a different purpose.

If these techniques and tools can be brought together, it would change records management.  We may already have the various elements. What remains is for someone to bring them together. If they can be brought together, then they can offer a new way to manage records, which may help organisations make better use and value from their records.

I would be interested in your comments. Do you see this as the next revolution in records management?

About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
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11 Responses to Here is the next revolution in records and records management?

  1. I agree that information (and therefore records, which store that information) has value, but I think we should be wary of re-inventing the wheel. The realms of information management and knowledge management already work on the basis that the information/knowledge they manage has value to the organisation (either because it enables cost savings, creates new value from generation of new products/services, or would have a cost to replace).

    I don’t have any answers here, but lots off questions! Where is the line between IM/KM and RM in this sense? If RM’s uniqueness is that it is managing authenticated, unique, evidential, etc, records of business dealings, then is the information held within those records still of active use to the organisation? ie, if there weren’t the compliance issues of ‘keep xx type of information for yy years’ would those records be kept at all, for their own sake? If not then they don’t have much value beyond the cost to store/secure, and if they do then is the management (and exploitation) of their content an RM issue or an IM/KM one?


    • lawrence serewicz says:

      Thanks for the comment. Yes, this is has a lot more questions to answer. I was thinking of a crude analogy to how any asset, like a car, is valued. There is the sticker price, retail, resale, and replacement values. All of thesde can differ at any given time based on variables. I think, rough analogy, that records can be done this way.
      From records, as a foundation, we can value other things like im or km. We are seeing this with ideas and how a “value” is placed on them for decisions.
      I would be interested in any models you know of as it would be a good starting point.


      • lawrence serewicz says:

        Thanks for the links. I will read in more detail when I get a chance over the next few days. I skimmed them and they appear to focus on ROI issues and justifyin the value of IM or KM. I was thinking more about the fundamental value of a record. The IM and KM work mentioned can link to this although it is making many assumptions that are not yet warranted or sustainable without the fundamental building blocks in place. For example, a firm that is busy pursuing KM is focusing on something different from what I am discussing with RM issues because KM assumes that RM is in place and accessible so that learning and other KM activities can take place.
        I think there is a link, although my focus is practical in that I am trying to consider how records can be managed differently, as a distinct asset, based on what they are and what they contain. There are exciting things happening in related fields and it would be a good project to see how they can be imported into RM.


  2. Interesting thoughts Lawrence. I agree that the time for RM=compliance is gone, it should have gone a long time ago, but unfortunately as a profession we have held on to the easy argument for too long. It is absolutely time to look at the value proposition, but as many have already noted, calculating RoI, Value or Benefits can become very difficult.

    Partly that is the nature of the beast, but it is also largely, IMHO due to the fact that we are also missing massive skills in engagement, marketing, analytical and conceptual modelling skills that would help us in developing these arguments. It would also help us advance our toolsets and start talking to our organisations in a 21st century manner, not a 12th century one.


    • lawrence serewicz says:

      Thanks for the comment. Yes, i think it is tiome for a 21st century conversation. I fear that the focus, in the past, was about compliance as justification, (ROI is couched in that sense) rather than as an asset to be valued and managed like any other.
      The models may not exist in final form and the work done so far on maturity models, ROI and other areas, will help.
      I think records management can benefit from what is happenning in other areas and that can be a basis for work on information management and knowledge management.

      The future is bright for records management, though it may not be one we recognise today.


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  4. Janet Anne. says:

    The overlap and duplication of records/information will choke any attempts at trying to effectively “value” what we already have in place. Going forward, there must be a SIMPLE and STANDARD system of naming/sorting/weighing the data stream. A system that must include input for “understanding” from women that are middle-aged and not terribly computer literate. We are the ones that will have the greatest need.


    • lawrence serewicz says:

      Thanks for the comment. You are correct. Ther has to be a consistent system for avoiding duplicate records. Moreover, there has to be a system that is easy to use. You identify a good point in that my blog was an attempt to sketch the outlines and it includes a lot of unstated and untested assumptions. One of the key ones is that the issues you have raised have been resolved. In itself, it may be overcome but it cannot be taken for granted.


  5. Kevin Makice says:

    The terminology is a little out of my wheelhouse, but what I understand to be the core problem is that organizations don’t have a good way to evaluate the cost of records management with the value of what they are protecting. All records are treated equally, and compliance with government and institutional requirements create a waterfall of documentation whose bulk generates a lot of overhead (financial and human resource).

    If that is the problem, are you suggesting that the value assigned to a given document through its sensitivity, application, and reference could inform an organization whether their current maintenance methods are appropriate? That these analytics might suggest multiple ways of satisfying compliance that better fit a particular range of values? Would this also be applied to the compliance rules themselves, to alleviate some of the procedural burden placed on the orgs in the first place?


    • lawrence serewicz says:

      Thanks for the response. Yes, that is a good summary of the situation and what is required. Only slight issue is compliance is less variable or rather open to influence. However, the principle of risk assessment, which informs much of compliance, and indirectly the value of the record, is variable.


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