By Heather Rice — Senior Research Analyst
Records managers have a love-hate relationship with technology. Managing records today is vastly different than just a decade ago, and as technology advances, it will continue to evolve. Technology has helped streamline recordkeeping processes, while creating challenges for records managers–creation/capture, storage/retrieval, and records security, to name a few.
Creation and Capture
Records creation is no longer relegated to desktop apps. One can now create a contract in the cloud, send it to a coworker via email, who will revise it on their phone, and send it back through a messaging app. The definition of a record has also shifted to include videos, images, instant messages, and social media activity. Records managers now have more records to consider and must determine what needs to be captured and how it should be stored.
Storage / Retrieval of Records
Access and retrieval are challenges for records managers. Information and data can be created, accessed, and retrieved with a simple click, as companies continue to digitize their records management programs. Ever-changing technology adds another layer–record types and access to media can become obsolete. What does a records manager do with old file types that are no longer retrievable, but may still be discoverable through litigation?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to record storage, and record managers must develop storage programs that encompass vast information and record types – the traditional file folder type of recordkeeping is no longer sufficient.
Records management programs should be well-defined and documented. Records management plans should also allow remote access to accommodate hybrid or remote work.
This shift from physical to electronic has also forced companies to be proactive instead of reactive in managing records. A proactive approach means prevention. Records managers must also develop strategies for protecting data, which leads to the third challenge for records managers.
Increased digitization and electronic storage make a company’s records more vulnerable to exposure. Data exposures happen – some happen by mistake while others are more malicious in nature. It is important for records managers to be proactive about implementing a cybersecurity strategy. Security and protection of a company’s records should always be top of mind.
To add complexity to a company’s records protection obligations, records managers must track new data privacy laws in the U.S. and globally. Understanding and complying with them takes time and effort, but failure to comply can be costly.
The evolution of technology is challenging for records managers, but these advancements don’t need to spell gloom. A well-defined and executed records management program—which can help with legal compliance and identifying areas for improvement— can bring peace of mind. There are also some exciting trends on the horizon that may improve records management processes. Machine learning, for example, will potentially help records managers extract more value from records by improving search capability while also providing valuable insight into a company’s data.
If your company struggles with records management technology challenges, Zasio can help strategize solutions for your records management needs.