The Digital Workspace: Preserving The Record Wherever It Is Created

Facebook... Instant messages... Twitter...LinkedIn...Email... wiki’s….blogs…daily electronic newsletters…instant update.  Aids to productivity or workplace distractions? 

SmartPhones….iPads…..thumbdrives….Cloud storage.  Aids to productivity or security leaks?  

Of all the technology available today, email has been around the longest and yet companies are still struggling with managing email.  According to industry analysts, email volume in organizations is growing by more than 30% annually, and the average user receives 7MB of data per day via email. As a result of this growth, the handling of email has become a critical business, IT and regulatory issue - driving the need intelligent management. Most organizations looking for an email solution are motivated by four reasons: 

       mailbox/server management

       compliance/records retention

       eDiscovery/litigation support 

       knowledge management/IP protection  

Unfortunately, technical management of mailbox or server size often overrides the three other business management concerns, resulting in non-compliance, adverse inference in litigation or loss of corporate knowledge because a critical email was automatically deleted without regard for its content.  Or, in the situation where email archiving is used, everything is accorded equal value and preserved indefinitely, adding to the mass of data that needs to be searched for responsive information, and increasing the likelihood of a “smoking gun” in a poorly written communication.   

In addition to email, with similar challenges, are newer communication vehicles, such as instant messaging, which are often officially banned from use in the workplace but are used by employees anyway because of ease of use and accessibility.  An auditor would then find the business in non-compliance.  

In 2010, Basex, a leading knowledge economy research firm, estimatesd that information overload costs the U.S. economy a minimum of $900 billion per year in lowered employee productivity and reduced innovation. Further, Basex estimates that 25% of the knowledge worker's day is lost to information overload. It’s only gotten worse.

Too often business units go their own way in trying to manage this flood of information by managing records in a manner that suits how they use them day to day without understanding the implications to the rest of the company.  Records may be stored for convenience in hard copy in a common area, in pdf on a shared drive, and, may also be on a laptop or on a thumbdrive, devices meant to be portable.  Questions arise about the authenticity of the business’ records where multiple copies exist if there are no guidelines and if resources don’t exist to effectively manage records.  Even worse, if the information is “mobile” and the individual becomes incapacitated, there is the makings of a disaster because the information is now inaccessible.

An enterprise wide records management program addresses all records, regardless of format, and provides the rules and the tools by which a company can manage its records efficiently, effectively and compliantly.  Electronic content management applications are available which will allow the ascension of records to a repository in non-editable form with metadata, including audio and photographic formats.  These programs are not inexpensive to implement or maintain.  However, they will pay for themselves when litigation can be avoided because authentic, responsive documents that support a company’s position are provided in a timely manner, through a standard business process.