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Digital Media and Information Governance

As digital media exerts greater pressure on records management processes, is it not time to think more holistically?


Records Management has traditionally been concerned with paper and electronic ‘records’ that comprised mainly office documents. Today it has become more difficult to determine what a ‘record’ actually is.

With the rise of digital media channels such as social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ new ‘records’ have been created. Now organisations have to contend with videos, images, comments, instant messaging, and a host of other information formats. Once published on the Internet these types of information become public and are typically no longer in an organisations sphere of control.


Information Governance vs Records Management

Information Governance as defined by Wikipedia.org:

Information governance, or IG, is the set of multi-disciplinary structures, policies, procedures, processes and controls implemented to manage information at an enterprise level, supporting an organization’s immediate and future regulatory, legal, risk, environmental and operational requirements.” ¹

Records Management as defined by Wikipedia.org:

Records management services (RM), also known as Records information management or RIM, is the professional practice or discipline of controlling and governing what are considered to be the most important records of an organization throughout the records life-cycle, which includes from the time such records are conceived through to their eventual disposal.” ²


As digital media channels continue to influence companies and organisations both positively and negatively one has to assess how these new information channels will be managed. Information Governance appears to be the more embracive term, one that has a broader reach. This is not to say that it is a replacement for Records Management, but rather it is an extension.


Handling Digital Media

Whether we like it or not, social networks like Facebook and video sharing networks like YouTube are here to stay. Likewise, whether you actively use social networks to promote your company and its products and services or not, you still need to take digital media channels into account and include it in your Information Governance efforts.

Why is this? The fact is, whether you use social networks and their accompanying content types or not, many of your clients and employees do. Eventually someone is going to mention your organisation. It may be a positive mention or it may be downright nasty, either way, it can affect you even if you are unaware of it.

As mentioned earlier, once something gets onto a social network it is pretty much out of your control. Therefore, the key is really to control what gets out in the first place. This means putting policies and procedures into place to manage what is said by your employees.

Putting together a framework for the creation of content that is appropriate for public sharing and working out guidelines as to what can be shared and what can’t is a good start to better information governance.

Controlling what your clients say is another matter, but downright great service will probably lead to few negative comments.


The role of Records Management

While Information Governance is clearly needed to control digital media, the fact that content is being generating means potential new records are being created too.

For example, if your organisation has a Facebook page and it builds a following, then you are gaining access to people’s personal information. Personal information constitutes records and it has legal implications.

Now while you are unlikely to need to store this type of personal information because Facebook takes care of that, other types of personal information generated because of social interactions may require storage.

Communicating to your following about a special or competition that requires them to sign up and give personal information on your website in order to be eligible does create information that you will need to store.


In conclusion

Controlling your organisations information and records today is no simple matter. Both large and small organisations have to comply with legislation and the challenges that continue to arise must be faces by all.

The important thing is to be aware that digital media has given rise to new forms of content and records that can affect your organisation. Being aware of this allows you to think about the challenges and improve both your Records Management and Information Governance.



¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_governance

² http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Records_management


Image Credit: Copyright: rostislavsedlacek / 123RF Stock Photo


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