Study Spotlights Business, Records Manager Gap

    Jul 22, 2015

    The gap between those who manage data and those who use it still exists, according to a survey released by Iron Mountain. “The Records Management Study,” conducted by Coleman Parkes Research in January and February 2015, highlighted the gap between business leaders and records managers.

    As reported at, the study found that the role of a records manager has shifted from organizing paper records to managing digital records, and they have had to evolve and apply new skills to effectively manage large amounts of digital data. Forty-eight percent of North American records managers said their role and responsibilities have changed significantly over the past five years, according to the survey.

    The survey also found:

    • The most important skill set for records managers is the ability to add value, insight, and analysis to the information they manage, according to 37% of business decision makers and 25% of records managers.
    • Only 20% of U.S. business leaders and 10% in Europe expressed total confidence in their organization’s ability to extract value from information. However, 80% of records managers said they believe they are successful at extracting value.
    • Records managers aren’t entirely sure what’s expected of them. Only about 20% said they are clear on what they’re expected to deliver to business divisions, including marketing, manufacturing, and finance. About 30% of business leaders in the United States and 20% in Europe said they have “complete understanding” of a records manager’s function.

    According to Sue Trombley, Iron Mountain’s managing director of thought leadership, businesses must adopt a paradigm that allows each department to have direct access to the information it requires in order to extract value to meet its goals.

    Information governance (IG) can help institute a new model in which instead of just dumping data on records managers, it will be assigned to the business groups that want to extract value from it. Both sides must work together “developing the skills demanded to navigate a shifting information landscape,” she said.

    Records managers and IG professionals who hope to prove their value to their organizations have a great opportunity to do that by becoming more involved in their big data, data mining, and/or knowledge management initiatives. Extracting value from information requires examining its actual content, learning how it is used, determining which parts of the organization could become more effective with a different kind of access to it, and then working with business units and IT to implement solutions to enhance its use.

    The following resources from ARMA International can start records managers on the journey to bringing additional value to their organization’s use of information. All are available in ARMA’s online store at

    • Big Data Analytics brings a practitioner’s view to the topic, examining the drivers behind big data, postulating a set of use cases, identifying sets of solution components, and recommending various implementation approaches.
    • Big Data and Information Governance: Friends or Foes? (a web seminar from ARMA Live! 2014) explains how records and information management can mitigate big data risks, summarizes how information governance policies and strategies can add value to big data, and explains how information governance is required to generate value from big data.
    • Think Bigger Developing a Successful Big Data Strategy for Your Business provides a roadmap for organizations looking to develop a profitable big data strategy and reveals why it’s not something they can leave to the IT department.

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