I think like most records folks, I didn't start out to become a records manager, I sort of fell into it. In my case I worked for a software company in the industry, and around 2002 we decided to become a records management software company. I had some experience with government, both as an employee and with our customers, and was the logical person to work on it. I loved working with our software and was always interested to find out how our customers used it. And of course I had the additional advantage of having lots of technology background as a software tester with the company and with growing up with Atari, Commodore 64, etc. In other words, I am a confirmed technologist.
So we developed the records management module, as well as some other interesting technologies that could be of value in managing electronic information more effectively. And as different technologies were introduced to businesses and organizations, and used to conduct the organizations' business, I started to realize two things.
First, I came to understand what many records managers already know, or at least espouse: records have to be managed according to their content and value to the organization, not according to their file format. This is much easier in theory than in practice. This led me to my second insight: while the records principles are to some extent timeless, the tactics aren't and will often need to be reinvented as technologies and their uses evolve. Fifteen years ago the issue was "electronic records." Ten years ago it was "electronic mail." Five years ago it was "instant messaging." Today it's Facebook and Twitter and a thousand other Web 2.0/social media/insert buzzword here technologies. I don't know what it will be in five years, but I know that it'll be something that hasn't been created yet (to paraphrase a popular local ad campaign for the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver).
I think we're in the middle of almost unprecedented speed of technological change. I know organizations are using all of these tools and more to conduct business. And I believe it is absolutely essential for us to think about the records implications of these tools before they come into widespread use. That's what excites me and what keeps me up at night - trying to apply those time-tested principles to whatever the next big thing is. When someone asks me how to manage (insert buzzword here) as records, I don't want to try to make it up, and I certainly don't want to tell them it can't be done and to avoid it because in most organizations those decisions are driven by the users, customers, and management, not from IT or records management or compliance.
I'll close this introductory post with a riff on my bio. I'm a former Unites States Marine Corps drill instructor. In my spare time I cook, especially when it involves chocolate and/or bacon, and I blog about it. I'm a big fan of microbreweries. I sing karaoke (80s one-hit wonders my specialty) and will be singing in Philadelphia again this year at AIIM 2010. So I hope you will forgive me if the odd cooking/bacon/chocolate/beer/karaoke reference works its way into a post. And if you find yourself at AIIM or one of the other association conferences out there, I'm the guy in the suit, the shaved head, and the posture. :)
Jesse Wilkins, CRM
#web2.0 #Career #change #recordsmanager #socialmedia #ElectronicRecordsManagement