Friday, July 30, 2010

The Hard Drive in the Sky

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And so it was that we tried “outsourcing” and that fell down flat on its e-face. Then someone called it using an “Application Service Providers” or ASP but that sounded like we would get stung and they failed to understand the importance of giving our data over to a newish under-financed company who maybe didn’t care about privacy, information security, etc. But then, we went to THE CLOUD. There I met a beautiful fairy who showed me the way of the Cloud Computing—"Isn’t it wonderful" she purred, “the hard drive in the sky.” And I saw it and it was wonderful indeed. Blah, Blah, Blah.

But businesses are now getting serious about Cloud Computing and I don’t really have the heart burn I may have had before. And that is because real businesses with lots to lose are doing it . That doesn’t mean you don’t need help navigating this new business relationship as it is different. But rather, it is serious business now done by companies with lots to lose if they screw up. The July 26 WSJ article said it all “Microsoft and Google Vie To Sell U.S. Cloud Mail."

Oh, so you weren’t really a fairy at all? “No, I am a Stanford graduate in Computer Science with funny slippers and comfy pants.” I got it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Records live on.

A company lawyer recently said to me, “I dream of a day when we have no records.” I thought about it and responded. I wanted to say --“You can fly if you believe Wendy.” But I held back.

I don’t know anything about doping or performance enhancing drugs. I know certain athletes have used them and it doesn’t seem fair if one uses them and another doesn’t. But this is a blog about information management not sports or even fairness in sports. Ok. Yesterday, I was reading an article about Lance Armstrong and the continuing investigation into performance enhancing drugs in the Tour de France. I think Lance is amazing—he dated a rock star—I haven’t. He won the most well-known and one of most demanding and grueling bike races in the world. I ride a bike and am lucky to beat my kids to the end of the block. Anyway, what I would say is that people will testify about the issue. They are either credible or not. Records can and will be used to defend or advance the argument against Lance. If I were Lance a few years back, seeing that performance enhancing drugs is becoming an issue going forward, I might regularly get myself tested and retain the results for if and when I need them to prove that I did nothing wrong. I wonder what his doctor would say. Remember he had cancer and presumably is tested regularly (maybe not for drugs) but maybe his doctors records would show us truth.

In the end, your ability to defend yourself is either having good human testifiers or records. For me I would rather have good documented evidentiary support as I know other bikers may feel “sour grapes” and lie. I know people have selective memory. Others of us just forget. In the end, records live on.

Vive La Records.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Much Thanks

I just completed an amazing trip to China. I was hosted by Renmin University Professor Xiaomi An and had occasion to talk and interact with her students. I spent a lot of time with her graduate students Weakow Wang and Ye Shen. First, when it comes to Information Management they are ahead of the pack. Second, when it comes to navigating China’s bright future, they will play an important role. Finally, when it comes to the deep goodness that makes our world smaller, more connected and joyous, they are some of the reasons why.

China has come so far so fast. China will go even farther with people like Xiaomi, Weakow and Ye Shen. Thanks for opening your world to me and teaching me so much.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Time to work together

In the old days of litigation, a lawyer representing a company with lots of information might take a huge collection of documents and produce them knowing that the other side would have a hard time finding the relevant stuff from the crud. In other words, the strategy would be “hide the relevant needle in a big hay stack” . With the change to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the need to “meet and confer”, that has changed. Can’t hide the ball as a plan; need to work together to disclose what you have (we have built RulesMapper to help), need to tell the other side what is “not accessible” and generally work together to focus the discovery process. If there was confusion about working together with your adversary, read Mancia v. Mayflower Textile Services Co. [2008 WL 4595275 (D. Md. Oct. 15, 2008)]. In the case Judge Grimm makes clear that Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 now requires lawyers to cooperate in e-discovery and if they fail it might be considered a violation of the duty of "reasonable inquiry". Money, time, collegiality and law all require working together. What’s stopping you?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tell us about your RulesMapper

A client wants to get a better handle on the information assets they have. In the old days, RM consultants used to get their troops out to inventory the enterprise. Months later and buckets of dough later, there was a spread sheet of stuff that purports to be the records. We have changed all that as we wanted our clients to spend their money on making retention work not just knowing what they had. Along the way we developed RULESMAPPER-an information governance dashboard to do the whole records inventory process for way less money and way less time. As it turned out, RULESMAPPER is way better than we thought. Clients tell us all the time how they use RulesMapper for “mapping of sources lite”, private information management, etc.

Jeanne Caldwell (the brains behind RulesMapper) and I want hear from you about how you are using RuelsMapper and how we can make it better.


Randy Kahn

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The new Information Parking Lot

When people vote with their feet, it is worth watching which the way they go. When employees flock to Sharepoint, it is worth figuring out why? But I already know why they flock to Microsoft’s new Information Parking Lot. Employees like it. Employees find value in it. They use it and it makes business “faster, better, cheaper”. So don’t be so quick to say no to any useful Information Parking Lot without knowing more. There are information management, records management and compliance purists that can find fault. Get over it. Look closely enough at anything and you will find fault. At least I know where my information assets are parked.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Call to Action

How do I know if records retention is working for my organization today? If employees are not applying the rules and getting rid of content — it is not working. If share drive environments grow unfettered then perhaps retention is not working. If IT systems are purged without regard to what’s in the computers then it's broken. But I already know it's broken. It is not working for most companies because the business world changed but the rules of records retention didn’t keep up with change. I am advocating for change.

In an IT-centric information governance world, you need to get real, real fast. If you think a set of retention rules that are event-based (don’t start to run until the happening of a future event) can work today with technology, I have another belief — it's too hard to build work flows for every future business event just to get rid of content. What that tells me is we should seek to have as few event based retention rules as possible. If employees aren’t doing retention as they are too busy already, then find another way.

Bottom line, I want to hear from you if you will work with me to change the industry. Are you in?

Randy Kahn