Gearing Up For Information Management Trends

This morning I got a text message from a number I didn’t have stored. It came in under a name though, a name that my phone had guessed for me. It said “Maybe: Emily”. That was handy. It was indeed Emily who was messaging. She had said as much in the message. Of course I have to admit I was a little uneasy to know my phone had been reading my messages before I had a chance to. I’ve been browsing online seeing ads for things I’ve already bought. Cookies, the less delicious kind, are a very normal part of life now. What seems crazy is that I don’t need more than my fingers to count the years that it’s all happened in. Change these days is happening faster all the time.  We can order food without talking to anyone, we can watch whatever we like, whenever we like, at the highest quality we’ve ever seen. And we’re growing increasingly impatient at services that are anything other than immediate.

Alongside the technology and the innovation and endless conveniences that are thrust upon us, our minds change a little too. Our habits and our structures and our day to day ways of living are constantly in flux.

In the world of information management, where change is inevitable, three trends have emerged:

  • A focus shift from paper to electronic data
  • The revision of information management and data protection legislation
  • The increasing importance of corporate and social responsibility

While most small businesses are aware of these changes, making the necessary adjustments to keep up with these trends is not always a priority. It can be hard to find the balance between focussing on running your organisation day to day operations and taking pause to consider keeping up to date and to make those changes. To that end, let’s take a look at some of the changing trends in information management:

Paper Cuts

No, not that kind. Don’t worry. Ouch. The time has come to cut down your paper. Reams and reams of it is really not that practical. Most businesses are conscious of the difficulty involved in dealing with large volumes of paper records. They’re bulky, difficult to sort through and difficult to maintain. Organisations are now starting to shift to electronic record storage as a long term solution. In digitising archive records there are some obvious benefits:

  • They take up less space!
  • Records become easily and efficiently accessible, providing of course that they are uploaded in an organised fashion.
  • It’s easier! Maintaining large volumes of electronic files is a much simpler process than maintaining multiple boxes of paper. Less flammable too.
  • With less on-going paper use, organisations can reduce their carbon footprint! An added bonus for the environment! Always a plus.

That being said, there are of course some challenges. Shifting to electronic storage poses a few problems:

  • Large volumes of electronically stored data require careful management, accessibility restrictions, regular back-up and a high level of security.
  • The auditing and management of such data requires more meticulous effort because it isn’t ‘visible’ or ‘tangible’ in the way employees may be used to.
  • Destruction of the paper records which have been digitised requires secure and environmentally conscious shredding.
  • The shift is not always as cost-effective as one may originally anticipate, especially in comparison to storing physical documents in storage.

Challenges abound! But are they outweighed by the benefits?

Legal Debates

Legislation is becoming stricter and safe records storage and destruction requirements are becoming increasingly stringent. Organisations of all sizes need to pay serious attention to the specific legislation that affects their industry and processes.

A few examples of Australian data protection regulations include:

  • Privacy Act, Principle 4 details the secure storage and destruction requirements of personal records.
  • The Electronic Transaction Act 1999 (Cth), Section 12 details retention requirements for written and electronic storage requirements. It’s important to note that there are State and Territory mirror differences in legislation.
  • The SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley) Act of 2002 mandates that all information, especially financial records, must be securely stored, easily accessible when needed and traceable throughout the auditing process. Afterwards, all data must be certified to meet all these requirements.
  • Different states have different laws regarding the retention of medical records, for example Regulation 7 of the Medical Practice Regulation 2003 applies to NSW, The Health Privacy Principles of the Health Records Act 2001 applied to Victoria and the Health Records (Privacy and Access) Act 1997 applies to ACT.

The responsibility is on each individual organisation to stay across the legalities especially considering the differences between industries. Increasingly, businesses have to make sure privacy and retention compliance are a priority. Staying compliant ensures all records are maintained properly, according to industry standards, while at the same time decreases the chances of a security breach, potentially pricey court cases and hard-to-repair reputational damage.

In this digital age we’re living in with constant connection and social media, customers and audiences are becoming less and less shy about sharing personal information. We’re all getting a little too used to “oversharing”. Yikes. With that in mind, most of us are becoming more conscious of the laws set in place to protect private information and know what we’re entitled to. Organisations of all sizes are responsible for segregating, managing and protecting all confidential information (in accordance with the Privacy Act).

Corporate Responsibility

Organisations are increasingly conscious of the effect their day to day activities have on the environment and are working to reduce carbon footprint. It’s worth considering how sustainability fits into your organisation’s ethos.

The onus of keeping up with emerging trends is on you and each individual in your organisation. We’re living in an age of heightened awareness and scrutinised accountability and it’s important your organisation is deliberate and conscious in its practices. To help you out with a conscious, compliant and effective data protection plan, get in touch with us at ZircoDATA. You can reach out via this link, call 13 ZIRCO or email services@zircodata.com.au.