Friday, 24 April 2009

New horizons and records management

I’ve just been reading the 2009 Horizon Report which explores what emergent technologies are likely to hit the higher education sector over the next few years. It’s a fascinating read for anyone interested in new technologies – and not just those working in HE.

As readers of this blog will know, one of my constant concerns for the records management profession is that we are getting further and further behind ‘the curve’ when it comes to new technology – and thus need to be doing all we can to futurewatch and to consider the implications for our profession.

Here are just a few snippets from the report and a summary of how they might be relevant to records managers…

The notion of collective intelligence is redefining how we think about ambiguity and imprecision. Collective intelligence may give rise to multiple answers, all equally correct, to problems. The notions of collective intelligence and mass amateurization are redefining scholarship as we grapple with issues of top-down control and grassroots scholarship

Anyone who has read ‘Managing the Crowd’ will (hopefully) appreciate how this chimes with my own thoughts on how ‘the wisdom of the crowd’ could be used to inform information appraisal.

Students are different, but a lot of educational material is not. Schools are still using materials developed decades ago, but today’s students come to school with very different experiences than those of 20 or 30 years ago, and think and work very differently as well. Institutions need to adapt to current student needs and identify new learning models that are engaging to younger generations.

Today’s students are your workforce in 1-3 years time. So if you think that change will never come to your workplace – think again (a point I made during my keynote at the RMS Conference in 2008)

In countries like Japan, young people equipped with mobiles often see no reason to own personal computers. A recent survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project predicts that by the year 2020, most people across the world will be using a mobile device as their primary means for connecting to the Internet

We need to start ensuring that whatever tools/systems we are designing to manage records are equally at home on a mobile device as they are on a PC or laptop. How many EDRMS work fully and seamlessly on an iPhone I wonder…

And how about the following for examples of technologies which automatically contextualize content (which is, after all, a large part of what records mgt is about). Consider the concepts underpinning these and think what they could mean for information classification in the future…

Applications designed for mobiles can take advantage of built-in features like the microphone and the camera. For instance… Snap-Tell (http://snaptell.com/) use the camera to record a photograph of a CD, video, or book, then identify the artist or author and display that along with reviews of the piece and information on where to buy it...

Devices we commonly carry with us increasingly have the ability to know where they (and, consequently, we) are, and to record our coordinates as we take photographs, talk to friends, or post updates to social networking websites…

Whatever the technology that embeds the capacity for attaching information to an object — and there are many — the result is a connection between a physical object and a rich store of contextual information. Think of doing a web search that reveals not pages of content, but the location, description, and context of actual things in the real world…

Some food for thought for the weekend…

3 comments:

Paula Smith said...

Hi Steve

In terms of futureproofing the RM proffession, I wonder how many people are aware of the sixth sense technology demonstarted at TED by Patti Maes

If you havent already seen it I would recommend you take a look and then think about our role in this new arena.

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/pattie_maes_demos_the_sixth_sense.html

Craig said...

You are right about the importance of futureproofing by integrating the latest technology. Technology is the foundation for process improvement and increased accuracy and efficiency in most organizations today. Document management is one area in which the use of technology is quickly becoming a requirement. It is used in areas such as indexing, scanning documents, providing access to virtual documents, and more. Unless it is a part of a company's core business, implementing a document management solution that takes advantage of technology should be outsourced. For example, many organizations set up prep and scan onsite without understanding all the costs involved.

A document management company that simply provides secure business records storage, document shredding, and offsite data storage isn't enough anymore. It must also offer the latest technology to ensure that a company can gain instant access to business-critical information. This includes enabling clients to utilize the Web to securely view inventory, create reports and handle ordering.

Steve Bailey said...

Hi Craig,

Thanks for the comment (even if it does sail rather close to reading like a sales pitch...).

I'd certainly take issue with your comment: "Unless it is a part of a company's core business, implementing a document management solution that takes advantage of technology should be outsourced".

After all, relatively few organisations 'core business' is document management - most of the time it is, and should be, simply a means to an end - the end being to achieve the core business effectively as possible. This doesn't mean that they should automatically outsource it. In fact for many organisations I'd say that is the last thing they should be doing (at least not without a considerable amount of prior thought and planning and weighing up the pros and cons).

Looking a littl further down the line I also wonder what impact the rise of 'free' 3rd-party Web2.0 hosts such as Google Apps will have on the commercial storage market