Sara Day Thomson

Sara Day Thomson

Last updated on 25 May 2017

In case you missed the excitement on Twitter, the Information and Records Management Society (IRMS) held their annual conference this week in Glasgow (very thoughtful of them to bring this powerhouse international conference right to DPC’s doorstep)!

IRMS 2017 brought together information professionals from across sectors and from across the globe to share knowledge and experiences in the management of data assets. Sessions ranged from case studies on topics like transforming to a ‘paper light’ workspace to a workshop on improving cybersecurity. Between the Exhibitor’s Hall and the Gala Dinner, there was no shortage of opportunities to network with some of the most innovative and enthusiastic practitioners and vendors in the business.

As an undercover digital preservationist, I was encouraged to see the sophisticated approaches to managing complex digital records. A theme that surfaced time and again was the need to be prepared for change through adaptability and creative thinking.

The lightening keynotes on the first day featured Tim Ellis, Keeper of the Records of Scotland, who talked about ‘dimes’ – being adaptable enough to ‘turn on a dime’, appreciate that small increments are heavy and difficult to handle at scale, and that value is just as important as cost.

Sarah Hutchinson, Head of Policy and Information with the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner, argued that FOI should provide motivation to reinvigorate records management. Lisa Simpson, Head of Legal & Governance Services with Perth and Kinross Council, ignited the packed auditorium with a call for information management to play a bigger role in organisations through stronger advocacy for the value and implications of data management.

The breakout sessions offered presentations and guidance on a wealth of topics, making it quite the challenge to choose! Tonic Matika gave an impressive case study on the transformation to a ‘paper light’ workspace during his time at the Westminster City Council. Among the many smart strategies that led to the success of such a massive undertaking, Matika emphasised the importance of the process as a corporate project, not just a records management one.

Jenny Lynn, the Data Protection and Records Management Officer with Department of Finance, and Graham Jackson, Archivist with the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), presented an information-packed double act on the implementation of retention schedules and disposal practices.

The second day of the conference was just as chocker full of great sessions and discussions covering issues from cybersecurity to adapting to new ways of working with AI and mobile technology.

Keynote speaker Atle Skjekkeland, Senior Vice President at AIIM, made the sage observation that when technological platforms change, the industry leaders also change. The major tech companies have a big job of staying in front of new developments – we have to be ready, too!

Martin Fletcher, Assurance and Information Management Consultant at The National Archives argued that cybersecurity is everybody’s responsibility and good information management is good cybersecurity. Knowing your information will help to identify weaknesses and prevent disasters due to cyber attacks (when, not if they happen).

Heather Jack, Director of HJBS Ltd, and Noeleen Schenk, Director of Metataxis, presented strong cases for both the negative and positive consequences of new ways of working, including AI and mobile technologies. Their conclusion? ‘The Future’s So Bright – I gotta Wear Shades…’ ?

I added my own two cents to the conversations about information management with a talk on #recordsmanagement 2.0: Managing Social Media as Corporate Record. In the short session, I gave a flying overview of the challenges facing the management of social media data and demo-ed Twitter’s ‘Download Your Data’ function. One of the audience -  Tim Gollins from National Records of Scotland - downloaded his own tweets during the talk! Definitely on of my best 'presenter moments'!

If you missed the talk or want to see more about #recordsmanagement 2.0, you can download the slides here .

Before I go, I want to give a resounding thank you to the IRMS volunteers who put in an enormous amount of work and to all the other delegates who have enriched my knowledge of IM and RM and given me lots of food for thought.

Oh, and did we mention, the DPC won an award! The IRMS Innovation of the Year Award sponsored by Iron Mountain to be precise. It was such an honour and we could not be more delighted!

I mean, we were all very, very delighted…

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