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Digital is changing the landscape of Information Management

The growth of digital media channels continues to challenge the way organisations handle information.


Records and Information Management Shifts


There was a time when paper was the only way companies and organisations recorded and handled information. Then came the computer, and information management changed forever.

The shift to, or rather, the sharing of information across electronic storage media was of course a great stride forward. Yes, there were those who would have preferred to keep doing things the old-fashioned way, yet even they would be hard pressed to deny the fact that the benefits of hard drives and magnetic tapes and other electronic storage media greatly outweighed any of the failings.

The latest challenge to how organisations handle information management and records management comes in the form of Social Media, video, images, instant messaging, and a host of other Internet related digital media channels.

Social media and all its accompanying forms of information have taken many organisations by surprise. In fact, most organisations are probably still unaware of the challenges they will likely be facing.


The Hidden Challenges


Now you might say, “Oh, we don’t use Social Media” or perhaps you said, “Social Media has been a great marketing tool.”

If you identified with the first statement, you may think not using Social Media and its related content forms from text to video to images, to instant messaging, has little effect on your organisation. However, the thing is, even if you do not use social media channels, many of your customers and employees do. Therefore, while you might not be saying anything your customers and employees probably are and they are inevitably going to be saying things about you at some point.

This exposes you to certain challenges, which we will look at shortly.

If you identified with the second statement, and you love the marketing benefits offered by social media then good for you for embracing Digital change. Of course, now that you have embraced it you are probably going to be having more challenges than those who have not yet embraced digital media channels.


Challenge # 1: Information Storage


Have you realised that your emails, social comments and conversations, videos and other Internet based communications done in the name of, or on behalf of your organisation, actually constitute records? How does this fit in with your current Records and Information Management Programme, if you have one?

Out of the challenges that arise, information storage is perhaps not the biggest. Whatever you place on the Internet will be stored either on web servers hosting your website or third party servers such as those owned by social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Controlling and managing this information poses a far greater risk.


Challenge # 2: Digital Information Management


How do you control the information that your organisation published on the Internet. Well in truth, once you have put something on the Internet you are going to have very little control over it.

This means that control must be in place before you publish information. Now, there are really two types of information. Information you are happy to share publically and information that you do not want shared publically.

Advertising and marketing messages are of course very important to share on the Internet,. However, what happens when someone slips up, says the wrong thing, and offends someone? This has happened more often than you think and you will probably be aware of a few examples yourself. The thing is this information is now suddenly public and you have little to no control over it.

This means you are going to have to take a whole new look at how you manage your organisations information.


Challenge # 3: Regulations that govern information storage and use


In addition to the above challenges, you will also face regulations that have been put into effect either by government or by perhaps industry regulating authorities.

For example, the soon to come into effect Protection of Personal Information or PoPI Act has serious implications on how you collect, process, store, and use the personal information of your customers, leads, and suppliers.


So what next…


Unfortunately, there is no set in stone approach right now on how to handle these challenges as they are still evolving along with the technology that has given rise to them and they will affect organisations in different degrees.

Being aware that digital media channels do have far-reaching effects on your organisation is a good start and allows you to consider how you will approach digital going forward.


Image Credit: Copyright: fkdkondmi / 123RF Stock Photo


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