Panelists Discuss Impact, Evolution of Information Governance

Where will information governance be in 202, and what will it look like? Panelists tackled this question in Wednesday’s closing keynote session of the National Conference on Managing Electronic Records, “20/20 Vision on Information Governance 2020.”

While each panelist had a slightly different definition of information governance, they all agreed that information is every company’s biggest asset, regardless of industry and sector. And, as the volume of information is set to grow exponentially by 2020, it’s in every organization’s best interest to protect and manage it like any other product. In healthcare, health information management (HIM) professionals are stepping into these roles.

Panelist Ken Whithers Esq., deputy executive director of The Sedona Conference, noted that “there will always be records, and there will always be somebody who’s managing or mismanaging them.”

“There are going to be organizations that know from the get go that information is the raw material from which their product is made, and they’ll have a tremendous focus on information governance, but it won’t be called that,” Whithers said. “These organizations will thrive because of the thought and effort they’ve put into it.”

When moderator Barclay T. Blair, executive director and founder of the Information Governance Initiative, asked the audience how many people were responsible for records management in their organizations, nearly everyone raised their hands. But when he asked how many in the audience had “records manager” in their job titles, only a third raised their hand.


Who Will ‘Own’ Information Governance in 2020

Throughout the session, panelists and audience members raised the specter of Target’s recent headline-grabbing credit card security breach and subsequent business and public relations woes. Privacy and security breaches—as well as the high financial costs of storing data—is going to drive information governance in the future, the panelists agreed.

Innovations such as cloud computing are going to lead to decentralized IT departments. As more and more data is stored in the cloud, rather than on- and off-site servers, desktop computers, and physical databases, the IT department’s governance duties will evolve. Due to cloud computing and mobile technologies, “we don’t realize how much of our IT infrastructure is invisible to us and collecting information. That’s why most of this information will be in the cloud one way or another,” Whithers said.

Steven Teppler, Esq., of The Abbott Law Group, said that job titles such as “chief information governance officer may emerge in some organizations.” Panelists also debated whether “chief data officers” could be another emerging role for professionals working on information governance.

When Blair asked panelists whether they thought organizations will get better at governing information by 2020, opinions were mixed.

Companies and IT departments will continue to struggle with “bring your own devices” policies, which involve employees who bring their own smartphones and tablets to work.

“Mobile is becoming the interface of choice. We live and die by how they operate. They also have massive amounts of enterprise information. It’s driving IT organizations nuts,” said Eric Hibbard, chief technology officer for Hitachi Data Systems.

Carol Stainbrook, executive director of Cohasset Associates, struck a more optimistic note.

“I think we’ll get better. [Your] question didn’t ask if the amount we get better will address the gap, or get better as fast as we need to. It’s a trick question! How we manage information is getting more complex,” Stainbrook said.

Audience members were encouraged to take the Information Governance Initiative’s annual survey, which can be found here. The Initiative recently launched a partnership with AHIMA.


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