Data, Records and COVID-19

Kevin Craine

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted business as usual and prompted most organizations to send their workers home. The COVID-19 crisis is hitting the world’s economy hard, creating great uncertainty for both employees and employers. The implications have yet to fully unfold, but for now we’re all working hard to keep our loved ones safe and somehow keep business moving forward.

Data Management in Times of Crisis

With economies in free-fall and businesses struggling to stay afloat, it can be difficult to keep our eyes on the horizon. But one implication that should not be overlooked is the impact on how data is managed as employees are thrust into a virtual workplace. Cyber concerns are high as hackers have wasted no time figuring out how to exploit COVID-19 and the fact that most workers are working from home. At the same time, the norms, policies, and procedures for information governance have been upset, putting organizations at increased risk of regulatory non-compliance.

Increasing Need for Good Governance

Information governance is more important than ever as companies scramble to redefine their workflow and update policies in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. According to research conducted by AIIM prior to the pandemic, 73% of organizations surveyed said information governance is “important” or “critical” to their business. But many also feel that they are not investing sufficiently in Information Governance; 43% say they are spending too little. This puts organizations at increased risk, especially now.

Data, Records and Information Governance

What can you do? Sue Trombley, Director of Thought Leadership at Iron Mountain says we should start by examining the differences between data, records and information and what that means to proper governance. “A record is an aggregation of data points,” she says. “Those bits of data feed into a record, which then must be managed under information governance policy regardless of their origin or destination. Understanding the interrelationship is key to adhering to best practices in this time of COVID-19.”

Now is the time to explore the relationship between data and records, how to convey that to your internal stakeholders, and the implications it has on your ability to ensure compliance with policy during these challenging times.

One important resource to consider is the AIIM Modern Records Management training course. The role of records and information management is being redefined. It’s no longer enough to be a steward of information. Businesses are looking for records and information managers to play a critical role in maintaining business activities, furthering customer experiences, and ensuring operational agility as we ride out the pandemic. Now may be the perfect time to take the course and boost your skills.

Post-COVID Laws and Implications

Whatever the implications of COVID-19, there are certain to be new laws, regulations and directives we must adhere to. Records and information management professionals will need to stay on top of those developing criteria, apply them accordingly to retention and disposition schedules, and work to be consistent even in the face of uncertain working conditions. And don’t forget existing laws like HIPAA in the United States and Canada’s PIPEDA. The expectations of GDPR-like regulations will not go away and will likely take on an even more critical nature as organizations across the globe deal with the business impacts of the COVID contagion.

Moving Forward

Organizations have long made a connection between all of the information flowing into their organizations and the compliance and legal risk this information carries. But now something bigger is in play – and an increased focus on data, records and information governance is critical. Look for providers and partners with the right mix of expertise, capability, and perspective needed to boost your information governance now and in the future.

Notes:
AIIM Industry Watch 2019 – Best Practices for Automating Information Governance

 

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