Information Governance: 2017 in Review

Jeff Ryan

The year 2017 has come to an end, and the beginning of the new year is a great time to reflect and internalize the big changes in the records and information management profession that took place over the last 12 months. This blog will look at 2017 in review.

For starters, it’s now more readily accepted that the RIM and eDiscovery disciplines are subsets of information governance, drawing the historically separate professions into more closely aligned practices. The topics covered below are just a sampling of the many new trends that surfaced in 2017.

Let’s begin with the biggest change coming down the pike: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was adopted by the EU in April 2016 and is set to replace the current EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC. The GDPR introduces new (stricter) obligations for companies collecting data (known as data controllers) and companies processing/managing and storing the data (known as data processors). This includes companies based outside of the EU. The GDPR also applies to any third-party vendor holding EU citizen content for data collectors and processors.

Failing to meet GDPR data handling requirements will be extremely costly for companies, with fines of up to 4% of annual worldwide revenue or €20 million (whichever is larger). Organizations must be able to comply with all aspects of the regulation by May 2018.

Another new regulation affecting data from across the pond is the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II), which comes into effect in January 2018. MiFID II seeks to remove existing barriers to cross-border financial services within Europe for a safer, more transparent and evenly balanced marketplace. Building on the original MiFID directive, MiFID II affects everyone engaged in the dealing and processing of financial instruments, including business and operating models, systems and data as well as people and processes.

Digital transformation (DT) refers to the changes associated with the adoption and application of emerging digital technologies. The two most talked about technologies in IG? The continued move to the cloud and the potential of AI and machine learning to take more of the manual processing — like categorization — out of human hands.

Companies have begun to recognize AI and machine learning as a major inflection point in the records and information management market. As explained by TechTarget, machine learning is “a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that allows software applications to become more accurate in predicting outcomes without being explicitly programmed.” Machine learning is based on complex algorithms that are used to “train” computers so they can utilize examples and feedback loops to make extremely accurate decisions.

For machine learning capabilities to be successful in the information governance market, new applications must move to an “unsupervised” training model in order to completely remove the dependence on human intervention. In 2017, machine learning was being studied in hopes of developing predictive categorization applications — again to take classifying records completely out of the hands of humans while also dramatically raising classification accuracy.

Another continuing digital transformation trend is the wholesale migration of on-premise data centers to the cloud for cost reduction, higher security and ease of access. As noted by Paranet, the three main cloud service models in use across industries are SaaS (Software as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service). SaaS and PaaS lend themselves to more efficient information governance use. In addition, the best-known use of the cloud continues to be for simple storage (i.e. OneDrive, Box, Google Drive, etc.). The move to the cloud will make new capabilities — like the use of machine learning — more readily available to companies that would not have been able to afford them on their own.

Looking back on 2017 in review will help information governance professionals focus on possible directions the IG industry could head in, moving forward. These trends and many others could make the information governance practice even more exciting in 2018.

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